UK & World News

  • 16 August 2014, 6:13

Police Admission Over Cliff Richard Home Search

South Yorkshire Police have admitted working with the media before searching Sir Cliff Richard's home in Berkshire.

They said when they were contacted by BBC journalists with information about an investigation, they decided to "work with them in order to protect the integrity" of that probe.

They 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".

Sir Cliff, 73, has said he did not know officers were planning to search his penthouse apartment on the Charters Estate in Sunningdale and only learnt about it through media reports.

A search warrant was granted after a historical claim of sex assault was made involving a boy who was under the age of 16 at the time.

The accusation, which Sir Cliff has dismissed as "completely false", relates to an event held by American evangelist preacher Billy Graham in Sheffield in 1985.

A total of eight officers from South Yorkshire and Thames Valley police forces spent about five hours at Sir Cliff's home on Thursday, leaving with a number of items at around 3.30pm.

No one was arrested and police stressed the investigation was in its "really early stages".

Detectives said a number of people had contacted them with information following the search.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Sir Cliff, who is in Portugal, 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."

Sky's Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said the inquiry is not part of Operation Yewtree, Scotland Yard's investigation into historical sex crimes launched after the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Conservative MP Nigel Evans said "questions have got to be answered" over Sir Cliff's claims the press had been notified about the search.

Mr Evans, who was cleared of a string of alleged sex offences at a trial earlier this year, told Good Morning Britain: "It appears the press knew what was happening before he did.

"A press helicopter was up before the police even arrived - he is quite right to be angry about that. Questions have got to be answered."

Born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, in 1940, Sir Cliff has become one of the most enduring pop stars of his era, with hits including Devil Woman, Living Doll and The Young Ones. He was knighted in 1995.

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