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Cliff denies sex abuse claims

London, Aug. 14: Devoted fans of Cliff Richard, Britain’s enduring pop star, will choose not to believe an allegation that he sexually abused a young boy at his home in Berkshire in the 1980s.

The 73-year-old pop star, who was born Harry Webb in Lucknow on October 14, 1940, and came to Britain in 1948 with other members of his family from their home in Hoogly, has long been known to be a committed Christian.

Over the years many journalists have tried to probe the personal aspects of his life since he has resolutely remained a Bachelor Boy — the title of one of his many hits — but there has never been even a whiff of a scandal surrounding him.

But today as a posse of police officers searched his Berkshire home, it was Cliff himself who hit out against the abuse allegations in an angry statement.

“For many months I have been aware of allegations against me of historic impropriety which have been circulating online. The allegations are completely false,” he said.

“Up until now I have chosen not to dignify the false allegations with a response, as it would just give them more oxygen,” he continued. “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.”

He added: “Beyond stating that today’s allegation is completely false it would not be appropriate to say anything further until the police investigation has concluded.”

In a recent TV programme, the presenter Piers Morgan tried repeatedly — and crudely — to get Cliff to talk about his sex life but the singer said he would not be drawn on what he felt was a private matter.

It is understood that lawyers for the singer, who is in Portugal, have been in contact with South Yorkshire Police, who are carrying out the inquiry.

Thames Valley Police said it had assisted the South Yorkshire force with the execution of a search warrant at the property. Eight plain-clothed police officers in five unmarked cars arrived to conduct the search.

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 abuse scandal.

Speaking at a police station in South Yorkshire, Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick stressed the investigation is in its “really early stages”.

He said: “South Yorkshire Police have gained entry into a property in the Sunningdale area of Berkshire. Officers are currently searching that property. A search warrant has been granted after police received an allegation of a sexual nature dating back to the 1980s. This involved a young boy under the age of 16 years. No one has been arrested at this stage and the owner of the property is not present.”Backed by The Shadows, Cliff was Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley in the 1960s. He has continued to flourish long after The Beatles disbanded and his hits included everything from Living Doll, The Young Ones, Congratulations, Devil Woman, Move It, It’s All in The Game, I Could Easily Fall and Summer Holiday (the title track from a successful movie).

In the 1980s, Richard considered marriage to Sue Barker, a former French Open tennis champion and Wimbledon semi-finalist.

In 2008, Richard said of the relationship: “I seriously contemplated asking her to marry me, but in the end I realised that I didn’t love her quite enough to commit the rest of my life to her.”

As a multi-millionaire, he is well able to afford a number of homes, including a sumptuous Caribbean six-bedroom villa in Barbados, where Tony and Cherie Blair have stayed.

Cliff Richard, as he is now, was knighted in 1995, the first rock star to be so honoured and performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace in 2012. He has sold 21.5 million singles — more than any other male British artist — and is the only performer to have had, at least, one UK top five album in each of the last seven decades. This achievement is all the greater since some disc jockeys make a point of not playing a Cliff release, much to his irritation.

He has represented the UK in the Eurovision song contest twice and in 2013 released the 100th album of his career.

Cliff’s representative Phil Hall said today the singer would not be conducting interviews at this time, according to the BBC. The singer left his home in the Algarve, Portugal, early today and travelled with his sister to another part of the country for a few days. If there is one area where he has not been entirely convincing, it is about his ethnicity. Today, it is “cool” to be Indian but in Cliff’s younger days it was not. He claims to be “pure English” but Anglo-Indians in Britain say he is one of them. And Cliff himself has admitted that when he first came to England, he was picked on by bullies at school because of his dark complexion.

 
 
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