A group of politicians reviewing a police raid at the Berkshire, England home of veteran pop star Sir Cliff Richard has described the much-publicised operation as "inept".

The members of a home affairs select committee overseeing the August (14) incident, which turned into a media circus, have reprimanded the South Yorkshire Police officials who attempted to cut a deal with a Bbc reporter who approached them about the story.

Police bosses have accepted they were "ultimately flawed" while investigating allegations of sexual assault against the singer, who has fiercely denied accusations suggesting he acted inappropriately at a religious concert in Sheffield, England in 1985.

The committee has ruled police officials were wrong to involve the media in the operation, suggesting any premature publication of the story could have damaged the investigation. The politicians claim Sir Cliff has "suffered enormous, irreparable damage to his reputation" as a result of the Bbc coverage.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz says, "South Yorkshire Police's handling of this situation was utterly inept. The force allowed itself to hand over sensitive information to a journalist and granted him privileged access to the execution of a search warrant.

"The force should have refused to co-operate and explained to senior Bbc News executives why the premature broadcasting of a story, which they claimed the journalist threatened, would have prejudiced the investigation."

He adds, "No British citizen should have to watch their home being raided by the police live on television."

Richard was holidaying in Portugal at the time of the raid and he has only returned to Britain since to meet with police officials. He has not been arrested or charged with any crime.