LONDON // British police interviewed veteran singer Cliff Richard, one of the country’s most successful entertainers, on Saturday in connection with an alleged historic sex crime.
Sir Cliff, a household name in Britain since the 1950s through hits such as “Living Doll” and “Devil Woman”, met officers voluntarily and was interviewed under caution. He was not arrested or charged.
The interview came after his luxury apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, southern England, was last week searched by police over “an allegation of a sexual nature” involving a boy under 16 dating back to the 1980s.
British media have reported that it relates to an alleged incident at a rally by US preacher Billy Graham in Sheffield, northern England, in 1985.
The 73-year-old has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
After Sir Cliff was interviewed, his spokesman said: “He cooperated fully with officers and answered the questions put to him.
“Other than restating that this allegation is completely false and that he will continue to cooperate fully with the police, it would not be appropriate for Sir Cliff to say anything further at this time.”
The probe is not connected to Operation Yewtree, the investigation launched by Scotland Yard into abuse by the late BBC television and radio presenter Jimmy Savile and a string of other aging celebrities.
But the publicity surrounding the case of Savile, who died in 2011, has led to a surge in allegations of historic sex abuse.
Australian entertainer Rolf Harris, 84, was found guilty in June of indecent assaults against four girls and jailed for five years and nine months for offences between 1968 and 1986.
Sir Cliff has sold more than 250 million records over his career with number one singles in five decades and is nicknamed the Peter Pan of Pop for his youthful looks.
Known for his clean-living, Christian lifestyle, Sir Cliff was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995 and performed at a concert marking 60 years of her reign in 2012.
His fans have rallied around him since the police search, buying copies of one of his singles, “I Still Believe in You”, in a bid to get it into this week’s Top 40 list of best-sellers.
Police say their investigation is in its early stages.
Sir Cliff issued a statement after the search saying he had not been given notice it would take place and denied the claims.
“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.”
* Agence France-Presse