Cliff Richard: MPs and lawyers criticise televised raid 'which could have breached singer's human rights'

Geoffrey Robertson QC said the raid was "completely unacceptable" and could breach the European Convention of Human Rights

A police force has defended its decision to stage a media-attended raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s house, saying that it decided to work with the press “in order to protect the integrity” of the investigation.

South Yorkshire Police said they were contacted by the BBC with information on the probe prior to searching the 73-year-old singer’s home in Sunningdale, Berkshire.

It led to hovering helicopters filming the search as detectives entered the house on Thursday, despite Sir Cliff being unaware of the developments as he was on holiday in Portugal.

No arrests have been made.

Police defended the decision to allow live footage of the search, saying that the increased attention had led to a number of new witnesses coming forward.

“Since the search took place a number of people have contacted the police to provide information and we must acknowledge that the media played a part in that, for which we are grateful,” South Yorkshire Police said, reports Sky News.

 

In a statement on Thursday, Sir Cliff took appeared to take aim at the force’s decision, saying: “The police attended my apartment in Berkshire today without notice, except it would appear to the press”.

He added: “For many months I have been aware of allegations against me of historic impropriety which have been circulating online.

READ MORE: Sir Cliff Richard profile: A career spanning five decades
The way the police have treated Cliff Richard is unacceptable
Police say publicity led to fresh contacts

“The allegations are completely false. Up until now I have chosen not to dignify the false allegations with a response, as it would just give them more oxygen.”

He also said that he will “fully cooperate” with the police.

The televised raid was also criticised by Conservative MP and Former Deputy Commons Speaker Nigel Evans, who told ITV: “It appears the press knew what was happening before he did and the world’s media were camped outside his doorstep.

“A press helicopter was up before the police even arrived — he is quite right to be angry about that. Questions have got to be answered.”

A convoy of cars leave Sir Cliff's home on Thursday Writing in The Independent, Geoffrey Robertson QC, a human rights barrister, said that Sir Cliff’s treatment had been unacceptable and that it had raised a number of questions surrounding civil liberties.

The police, “aided and abetted by the BBC and a Sheffield lay justice”, he said, had denied Sir Cliff his “most basic right to refute the allegation”.

He added that the behaviour of the police breached article eight of the European Convention of Human Rights – the right to privacy.

The allegations against Sir Cliff relate to a historic claim of sexual assault in Sheffield in 1985, involving a boy who was under 16 at the time.

Sir Cliff vehemently denies the allegations.

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