Sir Cliff dismisses historic sex crime claims
Penthouse residence searched by police over allegation involving boy
POP LEGEND Sir Cliff Richard has dismissed a sex crime claim involving a young boy in Sheffield in the 1980s as “completely false” as South Yorkshire Police raided his penthouse apartment.
A five-hour search at his Berkshire home was carried out yesterday afternoon by police as they executed a search warrant and it led to a number of items being removed for further investigation.
The search prompted the singer, who was not present at the apartment, to make a statement that he had seen allegations circulating online for months but had chosen not to “dignify” them with a response.
Sir Cliff, 73, is not currently in the UK and police were keen to point out that he had not been arrested.
The singer pledged to co-operate with the inquiry, which concerns an alleged assault claimed to have taken place at an appearance by American evangelist Billy Graham in Sheffield in 1985.
It is understood that lawyers for the singer, who is believed to be in Portugal, have been in contact with South Yorkshire Police, who are carrying out the inquiry.
The investigation is not connected to Scotland Yard’s highprofile sex crime probe Operation Yewtree, which was launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal.
In his statement, Sir Cliff said: “The allegations are completely false. Up until now I have chosen not to dignify the false allegations with a response, as it would just give them more oxygen.
“However, the police attended my apartment in Berkshire today without notice, except, it would d appear, to the Press.
“I am not presently in the UK K but it goes without saying that I will co-operate fully should the police wish to speak to me.
“Beyond stating that today’s s allegation is completely false it t would not be appropriate to say y anything further until the police e investigation has concluded.”
Speaking at a police station n in South Yorkshire, Detective e Superintendent Matt Fenwick k stressed the investigation was in n its “really early stages”.
He said: “South Yorkshire Police have gained entry into a property in the Sunningdale area of Berkshire.
“Officers are currently searching that property.
“A search warrant has been granted after police received an allegation of a sexual nature dat- i ing back b k to the h 1980s. This hi ini volved a young boy under the age of 16 years.
“No one has been arrested at this stage and the owner of the property is not present.”
A total of eight officers from South Yorkshire and Thames Valley police took part in the search of f the h performer’s flat in a highlyprivate gated development.
They began work at about 10.30am and five unmarked police cars were seen leaving the site at around 3.30pm.
Born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, in 1940, Sir Cliff has become one of the most enduring stars of his time, with hits including Devil Woman and Living Doll.
He was knighted in 1995, the first rock star to be so honoured and performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace in 2012.
SIR CLIFF RICHARD has been one of the music world’s most enduring stars, creating chart-topping singles across five decades.
Even 56 years after making his chart debut with Move It, with his then band the Drifters – later to become the Shadows – he continues to record and perform.
The perpetually youthful-looking star, still referred to as the “Peter Pan of Pop” at the age of 73, has outlasted thousands of artists who have come and gone with his wholesome array of more than 130 pop hits including Summer Holiday, Wired For Sound and The Young Ones.
Sir Cliff’s popularity was undimmed after his embrace of Christianity, setting him a world away from the wild behaviour of some rock stars. It appeared to have no visible effect on his colossal sales which have totalled more than 250 million records.
He could even claim to be a favourite of royalty, numbering among only a few celebrities who were invited to a tenth anniversary memorial service in August 2007 to mark the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, he moved to Calcutta and then when the country gained independence in 1947, he headed to Britain.
After landing a recording deal in 1958, he was marketed as the British answer to Elvis Presley, with a similarly sheened quiff. But the early rock and roll of his initial hits was toned down by the release of his first number one single, Living Doll.
He also embarked on a film career including The Young Ones and Summer Holiday which made him the UK’s biggest box office attraction in 1962 and 1963.
Even as Beatlemania took hold, Sir Cliff was a familiar feature of the charts, although the gaps between his number ones increased.
His conversion to Christianity took place in 1964 and he considered quitting the music business – particularly as a man who at one stage had been deemed “too sexy for TV” – but friends advised that he had no need to abandon his career.
He continued to record with
After landing a recording deal in 1958, he was marketed as the British answer to Elvis Presley.
the Shadows but also performed songs with a more religious feel and appeared at Billy Graham crusades.
In 1968 he became the UK’s Eurovision Song Contest entrant, singing Congratulations. He missed out on a win by a single point, but provided a hit across Europe and he returned to the competition again five years later with Power to All Our Friends which finished third.
He went on to have his own TV show, It’s Cliff, but also found a new lease of life as a more credible rock artist in 1976 with a landmark album, I’m Nearly Famous, and the single Devil Woman, which became his first proper US hit.
Although he enjoyed a close friendship with the tennis player turned broadcaster Sue Barker, Sir Cliff never married.
By 1979 he had teamed up with producer Alan Tarney for his hit We Don’t Talk Anymore, the biggest-selling single of his career. He became a figure of fun in anarchic BBC2 comedy The Young Ones – named after one of his hits – during the 1980s, but he graciously appeared with the stars of the show on a Comic Relief version of Living Doll.
Sir Cliff, who received his knighthood in 1995, devoted a number of years to getting his stage musical Heathcliff off the ground, in which he starred and which provided a chart hit with Misunderstood Man.
And the star, who has homes in Berkshire, Portugal and the Caribbean, led a celebrated singalong at a rain-sodden Wimbledon centre court the following year, leading the crowd with a performance which included Summer Holiday and Bachelor Boy.