Reporter who broke story about South Yorkshire Police raid on Sir Cliff Richard's home 'guessed signer's name'

Sir Cliff Richard.
Sir Cliff Richard.

A BBC reporter - who broke a story about Sir Cliff Richard's home being searched by South Yorkshire Police following an allegation of sex assault - has told told a court how he guessed the singer's name beforehand after receiving information from a contact.

Dan Johnson told Mr Justice Mann at the High Court in London that a contact said there was "just one more major figure the police were looking at" and he guessed Sir Cliff's name as he had heard "previous rumours" about the singer.

READ MORE: Former South Yorkshire Police detective 'felt forced' to reveal raid on Sir Cliff Richard's home to BBC

Sir Cliff has sued the BBC over coverage of the South Yorkshire Police search, which was staged after a sex assault allegation, in August 2014 and wants damages at the "top end" of the scale.

The star denied the allegation and was cleared of any wrongdoing. He has told a judge that the coverage was a "very serious invasion" of his privacy.

But the BBC disputes his claims and bosses say coverage of the search of the apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was accurate and in good faith.

Mr Johnson told in his witness statement how he spoke to a "contact" in June 2014 about high-profile cases involving celebrities.

He said: "The contact said there was just one more major figure the police were looking at.

"I guessed this to be Sir Cliff Richard because of previous rumours I had heard about him.

"The contact confirmed I had guessed the right name."

READ MORE: UPDATE: Sir Cliff Richard in High Court legal battle with the BBC over sex assault allegation in Sheffield

Mr Johnson said his contact had spoken of allegations being "closer to home."

He said his previous work had been in Sheffield and he took that to mean that South Yorkshire Police were involved.

"The contact did not correct me," said Mr Johnson.

He said he was "determined to protect my confidential source" and added: "I did not put South Yorkshire Police under any pressure in order for them to provide me with the information that they did."

Lawyers have told Mr Justice Mann how in late 2013, a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police, saying he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff during an event featuring evangelist Billy Graham at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane football stadium, when he was a child in 1985.

Met Police officers passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014.

Sir Cliff denied the allegation and in June 2016 prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.

READ MORE: Sir Cliff Richard breaks down in tears over BBC's filmed South Yorkshire Police raid on home
A BBC spokesman said that the corporation had reported Sir Cliff's "full denial of the allegations at every stage."

The singer had also initially sued South Yorkshire Police after complaining about coverage of the raid.

The force agreed to pay Sir Cliff £400, 000.