POLICE have complained to the BBC after the broadcaster gained details of a search the force was planning to conduct at pop star Sir Cliff Richard's home.

South Yorkshire officers carried out the search in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on Thursday. The force said it was disappointing the BBC was slow to acknowledge the force was not the source of the "leak".

Richard, 73, said the allegation of an historical sex offence against a boy under 16 is completely false.

Loading article content

BBC cameras and a reporter were outside the gates to his property when eight police officers arrived. The force said it was contacted some weeks ago by a BBC reporter "who made it clear he knew of the existence of an investigation. It was clear he was in a position to publish it".

A statement said: "The force was reluctant to co-operate but felt that to do otherwise would risk losing any potential evidence, so in the interests of the investigation it was agreed that the reporter would be notified of the date of the house search in return for delaying publication of any of the facts."

A BBC spokesperson said: "A BBC journalist approached South Yorkshire Police with information about the investigation. The BBC agreed to follow normal journalistic practice and not to publish a story that might jeopardise a police inquiry."