South Yorkshire Police’s deal agreeing to publicise a raid on the home of Sir Cliff Richard over historic sex offence allegations was a ‘mistake’, a top policeman has said.
Simon Bailey, chief constable of Norfolk Police and commander of Operation Hydrant, which is overseeing inquiries into non-recent child abuse in institutions or by prominent people, told the Sunday Times people accused of offences should not be named.
He said the way in which the BBC was told about a raid on the home of Sir Cliff by South Yorkshire Police - resulting in the search being broadcast live on television - was a ‘mistake’.
Mr Bailey said: “The South Yorkshire chief constable [David Crompton] has said ‘we got that wrong’.”
Mr Bailey said that of the 2,156 people identified by Operation Hydrant as suspects, 302 are or were in ‘positions of public prominence’.
Of those, 147 are television and radio personalities, 17 sport personalities, 39 from the music industry and 99 elected officials.
Mr Bailey said police understood the impact on people identified as alleged abusers.
He said: “They should not be named.
“There are investigations that the media will never, ever know about.
“I am acutely aware of the damage this can do to somebody’s repuation and I absolutely understand that reputation can potentially never be recovered.”
In September, South Yorkshire Police said its investigation into Sir Cliff was still ongoing, following reports that one of their three investigations have been dropped.
Sir Cliff has previously described the allegations against him as ‘absurd and untrue’.
He was in Portugal in August last year when the BBC broadcast live footage of police raiding his home in Berkshire.
South Yorkshire Police were later criticised for causing ‘unnecessary distress’ to Sir Cliff in a review by former chief constable Andy Trotter of the force’s agreement with the BBC.