08.16.14 12:20 AM ET
Sir Cliff Richard Faces Sex Assault Claim, Criticizes Police Raid On His Home
The seemingly endless stream of sexual abuse investigations involving celebrities and public figures in Britain now includes the so-called “Peter Pan of Pop,” Cliff Richard.
The perennially youthful-looking Richard, 73, famous for his Christianity, his apparent asexuality, and songs like “Congratulations,” “Living Doll,” and “Devil Woman,” was on away in Portugal when police raided his home.
“A number of people” have now come forward to provide information in the case after the highly-publicized police raid, according to authorities. Eight officers spent about five hours at the singer’s penthouse home in Sunningdale, Berkshire.
The police are investigating an allegation that Richard sexually assaulted a boy, then under the age of 16, at an event featuring the evangelical preacher Billy Graham in Sheffield, Yorkshire, in 1985.
The investigation is already mired in controversy, after one of the police forces involved was accused of briefing journalists, prior to searching Richard’s home.
One of the police forces involved has confirmed they had been working with the BBC.
South Yorkshire Police told Sky News they were contacted by BBC journalists with information about an investigation, and decided to “work with them in order to protect the integrity” of their own investigation.
The force added: “Since the search took place a number of people have contacted the police to provide information and we must acknowledge that the media played a part in that, for which we are grateful.”
In a statement, Sir Cliff said: “For many months I have been aware of allegations against me of historic impropriety which have been circulating online. 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 appear, to the press. I am not presently in the UK but it goes without saying that I will co-operate fully should the police wish to speak to me.”
Earlier this year, Sir Cliff, who says Botox didn’t “really work” for him, addressed long-standing rumors that he was gay. Asked on an Australian current affairs program whether speculation about his sexuality had hurt him, he said: “No. It did when I was young. It hurt my family a lot, of course. But who cares?It doesn’t really matter to me any more. I have got gay friends. Most people have gay friends. If I was gay would it make any difference? Would you not come to my concerts because I was gay? I hope not.”
The accusation of sexual assault against Sir Cliff follows a number of cases involving celebrities and public figures accused of past sexual abuse and assault, stemming from revelations that Sir Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011, had abused boys and girls throughout his life.
A subsequent police investigation, Operation Yewtree, has been investigating claims of sexual assault and abuse against a number of other public figures. It has led to the convictions of the children’s entertainer Rolf Harris and public relations guru Max Clifford.
The investigation into Sir Cliff, which is not part of Operation Yewtree, came in the same week that a 48-year-old woman claimed she had been raped when a small girl by one of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s top aides.