Cliff’s house raided over alleged Sheffield child sex assault

Det Superintendent Matt Fenwick of South Yorkshire Police
Det Superintendent Matt Fenwick of South Yorkshire Police
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The home of legendary music star Sir Cliff Richard has been searched by South Yorkshire Police officers after a complaint he sexually assaulted a boy in Sheffield in the 1980s.

Officers travelled to the Sunningdale, Berkshire, on Wednesday night and executed a search warrant at Sir Cliff’s plush apartment yesterday morning.

Det Superintendent Matt Fenwick of South Yorkshire Police

Det Superintendent Matt Fenwick of South Yorkshire Police

The inquiry concerns an alleged assault claimed to have taken place at an appearance by American evangelist Billy Graham at Bramall Lane in Sheffield in 1985.

Sir Cliff, aged 73, made an appearance at Graham’s eight-day Christian crusade in the city that June.

The star performed gospel songs in front of a 47,000 strong crowd.

The police team examined every room of the property, which was empty when they arrived.

Sir Cliff Richard

Sir Cliff Richard

Sir Cliff was on holiday in Portugal when he was informed of the police activity.

It is understood lawyers for the singer have been in contact with South Yorkshire Police.

The legendary entertainer, whose hits go back six decades, denies any wrongdoing and dismissed the allegation as ‘completely false’.

“For many months I have been aware of allegations against me of historic impropriety which have been circulating online,” he 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 without notice.

“I am not presently in the UK but it goes without saying that I will cooperate fully should the police wish to speak to me.”

Officers from South Yorkshire and Thames Valley police searched the flat which is in a highly-private gated development.

They began work at 10.30am and left the site at around 3.30pm.

Sir Cliff performed in South Yorkshire several times during the eighties.

He played to 2,000 fans at City Hall in February 1981 on an unpaid gospel tour to raise money for charity, returning in October 1988 to perform four sell out gigs.

The investigation is not connected to Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree probe, launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick of South Yorkshire Police said the investigation was in its ‘really early stages’.

He said: “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.

“No one has been arrested and the owner of the property was not present.

“A number of items have been removed for further investigation.”

Sir Cliff, born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, is one of the most enduring stars of his time.

He was knighted in 1995 - the first rock star to be honoured - and performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace in 2012.