“BBC accused of covering-up how it learned of Cliff Richard house raid by furious police chief in charge of investigating the star ... The BBC has been accused of covering up details of the controversial raid ... The corporation has received almost 800 complaints over its coverage” thundered the Daily Mail last month, leaving readers in no doubt that The Beeb Done It.
Cliff Richard. And his hair
And, just in case the headline didn’t do the trick, it was followed by “The police chief leading the investigation into Sir Cliff Richard has accused the BBC of a ‘cover-up’ over how its journalists learned the star’s house would be raided ... Chief constable David Crompton said he had complained to the BBC about an article on its website stating the force had deliberately attempted to ‘ensure maximum coverage’”.
This came hard on the heels of a similar rant titled “BBC chief won't say sorry for Cliff raid helicopter: Lord Hall defends coverage despite hundreds of complaints”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. So far, so typical: every opportunity for kicking the BBC must be ruthlessly exploited. This is the word handed down by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the Police force doing the complaining was South Yorkshire, which, soon after the Mail laid into the hated Beeb, was one of the agencies castigated for its part in the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal. So they duly became the bad guys, which left the Dacre doggies with a problem over Cliff’s apartment.
After both the South Yorkshire Chief Constable and BBC DG Tony Hall appeared before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee and “chairman Keith Vaz accepted Mr Hall's comments and said that the corporation had acted ‘perfectly properly’ in the way it reported the story”, a U-turn was in order. Yes, for once, the Mail came down on the side of the BBC.
“'Incompetence': MPs' fury after police admit agreeing secret deal to tip off the BBC over planned Cliff Richard raid” thundered the paper yesterday, telling readers that Hall asserted “The reporter didn't have a story until he went to South Yorkshire Police... and they gave him the story ... It was a proper story for us to cover, in the right matter, proportionately, which I think is what we did”.
Then the Mail put the boot in: “The appearance before the committee today comes at a turbulent time for South Yorkshire Police, which last week came under fire for failing to protect vulnerable victims of crime. South Yorkshire Police's public protection unit, which handles sex crimes such as rape, honour-based violence and domestic abuse, had an 'unacceptable' culture”.
Daily Mail supports BBC Shock Horror. On other pages: man bites dog.