The police search of Sir Cliff Richard’s house may have been unlawful because officers did not tell a court the BBC had a deal with the force to televise it, senior lawyers are claiming.
His home was searched last week by police investigating allegations of a sexual offence involving an underage boy in the 1980s.
Sir Cliff, 73, who was in Portugal when the search was carried out, has denied any wrongdoing.
He has stayed at his Portuguese home since the search of the property in Berkshire, southern England, and was due to return to Britain next month.
The BBC dispatched a helicopter to hover over Sir Cliff’s Berkshire home and stationed its reporters at the singer’s gates before South Yorkshire Police had even arrived to raid the premises.
The search warrant was approved under the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act. The application for this contains a duty of disclosure of anything that could undermine the application or “which for some other reason might affect the court’s decision.”
The Times reports that experts say this would include a deal with the BBC, so that the media coverage could be weighed against the reputational damage Sir Cliff could suffer.
Cliff Richard: Life in pictures
Cliff Richard: Life in pictures
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Richard aged 18 at the Hulton Boys and Girls Exhibition at Olympia's Disc Theatre in August 1959 when he was lead singer of the Drifters
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Pictured in 1962 with members of the Shadows, his backing group. Next to him is Bruce Welch, who played rhythm guitar
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With his backing group, the Shadows, Richard became a massive pop star in the 1960s with a string of hit albums and singles including ‘I love You’ (1960), ‘the Young Ones (1961), Bachelor Boy (1962) and ‘Summer Holiday (1963)
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With his mother, Dorothy, and one of his sisters in 1964
Michael Stroud/Daily Express/Hulton Archive
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Outside the Royal Albert Hall where he represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in October 1967
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Cliff Richard in 1968
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Cliff Richard poses in front of his disc awards in the 1970s
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On stage at the 1981 Royal Variety Performance, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London
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In an interview with the Daily Mail in 2008, Sir Cliff is reported as saying: "Of all the women I've known, there were only two that I've come close to marrying. One was Jackie Irving, a dancer whom I met in Blackpool. She was utterly beautiful and for a while we were inseparable. The other girl I came close to asking was Sue Barker, whom I met in 1982"
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Orchestrating a round of singing as rain delays play during the 1996 Wimbledon tennis championships
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Performing a duet with Flemish singer Helmut Lotti during a rehearsal of Lotti's album and TV broadcast 'Pop Classics' on 6 August 2003 in Brussels
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Performing on stage during the 'Intelligent Finance Cliff Richard Tennis Classic' at Birmingham National Indoor Arena on 18 December 2004
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Arriving with Brian May at the Royal Film Performance and World Premiere of 'The Chronicles Of Narnia' at the Royal Albert Hall on 7 December 2005 in London
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Unveiling a plaque of his handprints in Wembley Arena's Square of Fame on 9 November 2006 in London
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Sir Cliff Richard and The Shadows performs live on stage at the O2 Arena in London on 28 September 2009
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Cliff Richard attends a press conference to announce details of his new album at Gilgamesh on 7 March 2011 in London
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Queen Elizabeth II is introduced to Sir Cliff Richard backstage after the Diamond Jubilee, Buckingham Palace Concert on 4 June 2012, along with Sir Elton John, Sir Tom Jones, Paul McCartney, and Shirely Bassey
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Sir Cliff Richard at the 2012 US Open. The crooner claimed One Direction still compete with him to 'look cool'
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Performing on stage during the Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace in 2012
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Cliff Richard attends the 'Willkommen bei Carmen Nebel' show at Volkswagen Halle on 23 November 2013 in Braunschweig, Germany
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Richard, 73, is one of the most successful British recording artists
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Sir Cliff, born Harry Webb, has sold an estimated 21.5 million singles in the UK and 250 million worldwide during a career spanning over 50 years
A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire police confirmed to the paper that Sheffield’s magistrate court was not told about the media involvement when approving the warrant. The spokeswoman said: “It is not common practice to inform the court of any media involvement.”
The force said it would not disclose such an arrangement as media deals “not just in this case but in all cases”.
Video: Police search Cliff Richards' home
The former director of public prosecutions, Lord MacDonald of River Glaven, QC criticised the force for its “completely disreputable conduct” and said its action could make the warrant unlawful.
He told The Times: “To apply for a search warrant, having come to an arrangement with a media organisation in advance, so that the warrant can be used to create an event designed to reflect favourably on the police.
“It is possible that the failure to disclose these facts renders the warrant unlawful.”
Geoffrey Robertson QC added: “It is difficult to believe that any magistrate would have granted a warrant for the world’s press and helicopters to attend the search.”
Sir Cliff Richard has cancelled a performance he was due to give next month in Canterbury Cathedral, his spokesman said on Tuesday.
His spokesman said “he doesn't want the event to be overshadowed by the false allegation and has therefore withdrawn.
"He is sorry for any disappointment or inconvenience caused."Reuse content