LONDON (Reuters) – The search of Cliff Richard’s house by police investigating allegations of child sex crimes, which was broadcast live on television, was “inept” and caused “irreparable damage” to the British singer’s reputation, lawmakers said on Friday.
Officers raided the home of Richard, 74, one of Britain’s best-known entertainers, in August, with the search carried out in the glare of BBC cameras after the broadcaster was given advance warning.
Richard has denied any wrongdoing over the allegations, which date back to the 1980s and involve an underage boy. He has been interviewed under caution by police, but neither arrested nor charged.
The singer was on holiday when the raid was carried out and in a report, parliament’s Home Affairs Committee criticised what it said was the unnecessary public nature of the police action.
“South Yorkshire Police’s handling of this situation was utterly inept,” said the committee’s chairman Keith Vaz.
“Sir Cliff Richard has suffered enormous and irreparable damage to his reputation and he is owed an apology over the way matters were handled. We are not surprised that he wishes to sell his home.”
South Yorkshire police said they had only allowed the BBC to film the raid because a BBC reporter was planning to break the story that Richard was being investigated. It said the broadcaster agreed to hold off in return for notification about the search of Richard’s home in Berkshire, west of London.