Reporter denies forcing hand of detective over raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s home
Dan Johnson broke the story about the inquiry and raid.
A BBC reporter has told a High Court judge that he did not force a senior detective into providing information about a raid on the home of Sir Cliff Richard.
Dan Johnson, who broke the story about the investigation and raid nearly four years ago, denied using strong-arm tactics on a South Yorkshire Police superintendent.
He told Mr Justice Mann on Thursday that he did not work “like that”.
Sir Cliff, 77, 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 the singer’s claims.
Bosses say coverage of the search of the apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was accurate and in good faith.
Mr Justice Mann is overseeing a trial at the High Court in London.
He 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.
Matthew Fenwick, who was South Yorkshire detective superintendent heading the investigation into Sir Cliff, has told how he felt “forced” into revealing information about the raid.
Mr Fenwick, who has retired from the police, has told the judge how Mr Johnson had said “he could and he would” publish a story before police wanted information to emerge.
Barrister Justin Rushbrooke QC, who is leading Sir Cliff’s legal team, on Thursday 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.”
He added: “I didn’t need to hold anyone over a barrel. I don’t work like that anyway.”
Mr Johnson said a meeting with Mr Fenwick and a force press officer was “polite, calm and well-mannered” and added: “The information flowed without me needing to put any pressure on anyone.”
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.
A BBC spokesman said the corporation reported Sir Cliff’s “full denial of the allegations at every stage”.
– South Yorkshire Police agreed to pay Sir Cliff Richard £400,000 after settling a claim he brought against the force, the judge has heard. The singer had initially sued the BBC and South Yorkshire Police after complaining about coverage of the raid. But Mr Justice Mann was told in May 2017 how that dispute had been settled.