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BBC reporter denies pressurising police over search of Cliff Richard home

Dan Johnson refuted a suggestion he ‘strong-armed’ officers into letting him cover the search at the High Court in London.

A BBC reporter who broke a story about Sir Cliff Richard’s home being searched by police following a child sex assault allegation has denied “strong-arming” senior officers into co-operating with him.

Dan Johnson told a High Court judge on Thursday that had not happened.

A lawyer representing Sir Cliff suggested that Mr Johnson had South Yorkshire Police over a barrel during the latest stage of a trial in London.

You are effectively strong-arming South Yorkshire Police into co-operating Justin Rushbrooke QC

Sir Cliff has sued the BBC over coverage of the South Yorkshire Police search in August 2014 and wants damages at the “top end” of the scale.

He says the coverage, which involved the use of a helicopter, was a “very serious invasion” of his privacy. The BBC disputes his claims.

Bosses say coverage of the search of the apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was accurate and in good faith.

Mr Justice Mann has heard how Mr Johnson asked a South Yorkshire Police press officer if Sir Cliff was on the “radar” after getting a tip that the singer was being investigated.

Barrister Justin Rushbrooke QC, who is leading Sir Cliff’s legal team, suggested that Mr Johnson pressured police into letting him cover their search by threatening to reveal what he knew.

He said to Mr Johnson: “You are effectively strong-arming South Yorkshire Police into co-operating.”

Mr Johnson replied: “That’s not what happened.”

The trial continues.

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