County’s chief constable to be quizzed by MPs in Sir Cliff row

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton
South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton
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South Yorkshire’s top police officer is to be hauled before MPs as the row over the search of Sir Cliff Richard’s home intensifies.

Chief constable of South Yorkshire Police David Crompton and director-general of the BBC Tony Hall will face a grilling by MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee.

A row erupted when the BBC broke the news about a search of the pop star’s Berkshire home last week and a film crew arrived on scene before the police.

Mr Crompton and Lord Hall have been warned to be ready to give evidence after Parliament returns from recess.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz has written to Mr Crompton and Lord Hall asking a series of questions about how the BBC found out about the planned search.

They have been asked to reply by midday on Friday.

Meanwhile South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright has appointed former chief constable Andy Trotter, who helped draw up press relations guidance for the College of Policing, to lead a probe into the affair.

His spokeswoman said: “The South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner has held meetings to review the chronology of events which led to the force’s decision to notify the BBC of the date of the house search, which took place in Berkshire on 14 August, in order to protect the integrity of their investigation.

“As a result, he has decided to commission an independent review of the events which took place to form the rationale behind their decision making.

“The commissioner is keen to ensure a full, fair and transparent analysis of actions taken and to determine if they were aligned with the College of Policing guidance on relationships with the media relevant to such disclosure.”

Sir Cliff’s apartment was searched by South Yorkshire and Thames Valley police last week as part of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault on a young boy at a religious event at Bramall Lane in 1985.

The performer, who was in Portugal when the search took place, firmly denied any wrongdoing and said he was angry the media were ‘tipped off’.

The BBC has confirmed the leak about the investigation did not come from South Yorkshire Police.

The force said it had decided to work with the broadcaster to ‘protect its investigation’.

Thames Valley Police has said it had no contact with the media before the search warrant was executed.

Mr Crompton has been asked to explain who in the force knew about the search and who might have found out; when he and the force’s press team were made aware of it; how many times the force confirmed the search time to journalists and whether the search was delayed or brought forward.

He has also been asked whether any officer acted inappropriately, why the force complained to the BBC, when the broadcaster asked for more information about the search and what was agreed about reporting it.

Mr Vaz has asked Lord Hall how and when the broadcaster discovered the investigation; when it first contacted South Yorkshire Police and whether the force confirmed the time and date of the search.