The Guardian reports…
“A police raid on a home owned by Cliff Richard is part of an investigation into an allegation of sexual assault on a boy at a rally held by the evangelical US preacher Billy Graham three decades ago.
Richard’s property in Berkshire was searched on Thursday by detectives investigating the claim that the boy, aged under 16 at the time, was abused by an adult at a faith event held by the US pastor in Sheffield, Yorkshire in the 1980s. The rally was held at Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United Football Club.
Police said they wanted to speak to the owner of the property that was searched, but would not say whether that was as a suspect or a witness or in another capacity.
Graham, a friend and counsellor to former US presidents Richard Nixon, George Bush Sr and George W Bush, held the rally in Sheffield in June 1985.
Richard’s home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was raided after police gained a search warrant from Sheffield magistrates court.
Police said the alleged victim came forward with the complaint recently. South Yorkshire police, who received the complaint, said they were treating it seriously and had begun a criminal investigation.
Richard, who is currently in Portugal, said the claim was “completely false” and that the raid on his Berkshire property came without notice.
He said in a 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.
“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 cooperate fully should the police wish to speak to me.
“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 statement, South Yorkshire police 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.”
Officers left Richard’s property at about 3.30pm in unmarked cars after spending five hours in the house on a gated estate. Eight officers, some from South Yorkshire and others from the Thames Valley force, were involved in the search of the estate, which has 20 acres of grounds, a tennis complex, health spa and swimming pool.
Journalists and photographers had maintained a vigil in front of the Charter secondary school, opposite the estate, while helicopters from media organisations hovered overhead. One resident said: “We knew there was something going on when we heard the helicopters and then we saw it on the news. He’s got a lot of fans. A lot of people are going to be very shocked [by the allegations].”
He said a number of famous people lived in the area, including Chris Evans and Tom O’Connor, but they tended to keep themselves to themselves.
Richard, 73, is one of the most successful British recording artists and has enjoyed a career that has spanned several decades.
Police said the search was not connected to Operation Yewtree, established in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, which is being run by the Metropolitan police.
Richard’s routine for many years has been to spend the whole of August in the Algarve before heading to New York for the US Open. As recently as 4 August he attended a charity event at his winery in Albufeira. He has a villa nearby.
Graham, dubbed “America’s pastor”, has been friends with Richard for decades. The singer chose a Graham rally in London in 1966 to announce that he was a Christian.”