The British police did not give Sir Cliff Richard the "most basic right to refute the allegation" of sexual abuse made against him, according to Geoffrey Robertson QC.

The British police did not give Sir Cliff Richard the "most basic right to refute the allegation" of sexual abuse made against him, according to Geoffrey Robertson QC. Photo: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

Police investigating an allegation of child abuse against Sir Cliff Richard defended their handling of the case on Friday as new potential witnesses came forward with information.

South Yorkshire Police admitted it had "worked with" the BBC, which broadcast live helicopter footage of detectives arriving at the singer's home on Thursday with a search warrant.

MPs said the force had "questions to answer" over its decision to confirm a tip-off the BBC had received independently about the raid, which encouraged the broadcaster to send news crews to the flat in Berkshire.

'The castle' ... A general view of the Charters Estate where entertainer Sir Cliff Richard owns an apartment. BBC was tipped off by British police that they were about to search his property, Geoffrey Robertson says.

'The castle' ... A general view of the Charters Estate where entertainer Sir Cliff Richard owns an apartment. BBC was tipped off by British police that they were about to search his property, Geoffrey Robertson says. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

South Yorkshire Police released a statement suggesting its actions had been vindicated by the fact that "since the search took place a number of people have contacted police to provide information", adding: "The media played a part in that, for which we are grateful."

The force said it was "too early to say" whether any of the callers were claiming to be victims of abuse, or whether their information related to an existing allegation that Sir Cliff molested a young boy at a Christian rally in 1985.

Sir Cliff, 73, believes the high-profile raid was no more than a "fishing expedition" designed to generate publicity and encourage people to "come out of the woodwork".

Property searched ... Members of the media report from outside the Charters Estate, in Berkshire, England,  where British singer Cliff Richard has an apartment.

Property searched ... Members of the media report from outside the Charters Estate, in Berkshire, England, where British singer Cliff Richard has an apartment. Photo: AP

He has been warned that, as a result of the new information which police will now have to follow up, it may be "weeks" or even longer before detectives are ready to speak to him, leaving him in limbo for a lengthy period of time.

It has emerged that the alleged victim, who was aged under 16 at the time of the alleged assault in Sheffield, first spoke to police 14 months ago as a result of publicity generated by a television documentary exposing Jimmy Savile as a paedophile.

The man initially contacted Mark Williams-Thomas, the journalist behind the Savile expose, who put him in touch with the Metropolitan Police's Operation Yewtree early last summer.

After the Met took a statement, it passed the investigation on to South Yorkshire Police, as the alleged assault happened at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane football ground, where Sir Cliff was performing at a rally as a guest of Billy Graham, the US evangelist.

Sir Cliff made it clear in a statement released on Thursday that he was angry the BBC knew his home in Sunningdale was being raided before he did. He was at his summer home in Portugal at the time and said the search was carried out "without notice, except, it would appear, to the press".

A BBC producer is understood to have heard that the raid was going to happen and phoned South Yorkshire Police, which confirmed the information was correct. It enabled the BBC to arrange for a news crew to be at the property in readiness for the police arriving.

The BBC also was able to run an interview with a uniformed South Yorkshire officer, standing outside the force's Sheffield headquarters, within moments of the raid starting.

Jonathan Munro, the BBC's head of news gathering, said he would not reveal the source of the tip-off but said he "can confirm it was not South Yorks Police".

Thames Valley Police, which assisted South Yorkshire with the search because Sir Cliff's home is in its force area, denied it was the source of the leak.

Sir Cliff has said that the allegations against him are "completely false".

Telegraph, London