VETERAN entertainer Sir Cliff Richard has dismissed allegations of a historical sexual assault on a boy under 16 as “completely false” as police searched his home.
The singer said he had been aware of online allegations for several months but had chosen not to “dignify” them with a response.
However, he spoke out as eight police officers removed “a number of items” from his property in Berkshire for further investigation after an allegation was made about an assault on the youth.
It is understood the claim made against Sir Cliff allegedly took place at a rally by Christian evangelist Billy Graham at the Bramall Lane stadium of football team Sheffield United in 1985.
The 73-year-old is currently outside the UK and no arrests have been made, but he has vowed to “co-operate fully” if the police seek to question him in the future.
It is believed that lawyers for the singer, in Portugal on holiday with his sister, have been in contact with South Yorkshire Police, who are carrying out the inquiry.
The investigation is not connected to Scotland Yard’s high-profile sex-crime probe, Operation Yewtree, which was launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex-abuse scandal.
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.”
Phil Hall, a spokesman for the singer, said that the star would not be granting interviews at this time.
Police confirmed officers entered the property yesterday in relation to the alleged sexual assault of a boy under 16 in the 1980s and that nobody had been arrested.
Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick stressed the investigation was in its “really early stages”.
A spokeswoman for the force said: “South Yorkshire Police has gained entry to a property in the Sunningdale area of Berkshire.
“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.”
She added: “No-one has been arrested and the owner of the property was not present.”
A spokesman for Thames Valley Police confirmed the force had helped its South Yorkshire counterparts with the execution of a search warrant for an address in Sunningdale.
A handful of television crews, reporters and photographers were gathered near the gates to Charters, a private estate which includes a grade II-listed mansion, manicured lawns and acres of land.
Cars could be seen going in and out of the brown gates to the long driveway, although no uniformed police officers were standing guard.
The art deco estate, which also features a spa, a 50ft swimming pool, a tennis court and a water feature, was built in the 1930s. After nearly five hours at the property, police ended their search at around 3:30pm, with five unmarked cars leaving the development.
Born as Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, in 1940, Sir Cliff is one of the most successful musicians in British history. He has sold 21.5 million singles, more than any British male performer, and his hits include Devil Woman and Living Doll.
He remains the only performer to have had at least one UK top-five album in each of the last seven decades. He has represented his nation in the Eurovision song contest twice and in 2013 released the 100th album of his career.