A former British police boss has concluded authorities should not have shared confidential details about a planned raid on Sir Cliff Richard's home in an independent report.
Andy Trotter, the ex-chief constable of British Transport Police, claims South Yorkshire Police (Syp) officials "interfered" with the star's privacy by telling the Bbc about the raid in Berkshire last summer (Aug14).
Broadcasting bosses previously revealed a parliamentary committee had endorsed the company's handling of the story.
Following the raid, the Living Doll singer was interviewed by detectives investigating a claim of a sex crime involving a young boy. He was not arrested or charged, but the fall-out from the story led Richard to cancel a string of concerts and prolong a stay in Portugal, where he owns a vineyard.
In his report, Trotter writes, "The search at Sir Cliff Richard's apartment, and the nature of the allegation, generated considerable publicity across the world, certainly interfered with his privacy and may well have caused unnecessary distress.
"Whatever the motivation and good intentions of those involved from Syp, the outcome has been bad publicity for the force, the chief constable being summoned to Hasc (Home Affairs Select Committee), criticism from the media and politicians, complaints from the public, abuse on social media and a public spat with the Bbc.
"More importantly, people have seen a search on Sir Cliff Richard's apartment unfold on television with details of a serious allegation put into the public domain prior to him being interviewed by the police.
"The force can argue that the search was carried out successfully and there was no interference to the investigation that the threat of prior publication was avoided. That is true but at considerable cost to the reputation of the force which could have been avoided by the individuals concerned."