British singer Cliff Richard denies allegations of sexual abuse
Veteran British singer Cliff Richard yesterday strongly denied allegations of sexual impropriety after police investigating a historic claim of abuse against a boy searched one of his properties.
The 73-year-old, a pop star since the 1950s who won fame with songs such as The Young Ones and Living Doll, said the allegations were "completely false".
Richard was not present when police officers searched his apartment in a gated community in the village of Sunningdale, Berkshire, southern England.
"A search warrant was granted after police received an allegation of a sexual nature dating back to the 1980s involving a boy who was under the age of 16 at the time," said a spokesman for South Yorkshire Police. "No one has been arrested and the owner of the property was not present."
A committed Christian who shunned the sex, drugs and alcohol lifestyle, Richard in 1995 became the first British rock star to be knighted. He has had number one singles in five decades from the 1950s onwards and is regarded as a British institution.
In a statement Richard, who is reported to be in Portugal, said he had done nothing wrong but said he would "cooperate fully" with the investigation.
"For many months I have been aware of allegations against me of historic impropriety which have been circulating online. The allegations are completely false," the singer said.
"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."
Richard said it would not be appropriate to say anything further until the police investigation has concluded.
The singer was born Harry Webb in Lucknow, northern India, on October 14, 1940.
Cliff Richard and The Shadows were a landmark act in early British rock and roll, and Richard became a sex symbol, dubbed England's answer to Elvis Presley.
Richard played a medley of his greatest hits at Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee concert in 2012.
The police search is not connected to Operation Yewtree, the investigation launched by London's Scotland Yard into late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile and others. However the publicity surrounding the abuse of children by Savile, who died aged 84 in October 2011, has led to a surge in allegations of historic sex abuse.