UK

Sir Cliff Richard police inquiry 'significantly expanded'

Cliff Richard in 2012 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sir Cliff says the allegations against him are completely false

A historical sex offence inquiry into singer Sir Cliff Richard has "increased significantly in size" and involves "more than one allegation", police say.

The expansion of the investigation meant no date could be given for when it would be concluded, South Yorkshire Police's chief constable said.

It comes after officers raided Sir Cliff's Berkshire home last August.

Sir Cliff, 74, said he had no idea where the "absurd and untrue" allegations against him come from.

"The police have not disclosed details to me," he said in a statement.

"I have never, in my life, assaulted anyone and I remain confident that the truth will prevail. I have cooperated fully with the police, and will, of course, continue to do so."

Sir Cliff has been interviewed about an allegation of a sex crime, but was not arrested or charged.

The BBC understands the original allegation relates to an alleged assault at an event featuring US preacher Billy Graham at Bramall Lane in Sheffield in 1985.

'As swiftly as possible'

In a letter dated 10 February to Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Chief Constable David Crompton said his force was in regular contact with Sir Cliff's lawyers.

Image copyright SYP
Image caption The details come in a letter from the chief constable of South Yorkshire to Labour MP Keith Vaz

That involved a "verbal update about once a fortnight", he said.

"This is an investigation which has increased significantly in size since its inception. Sir Cliff Richard's lawyers are aware that there is more than one allegation," he said in the letter.

He added: "It would be premature and potentially misleading to predict a likely date when it will be concluded, however, we are progressing as swiftly as possible."

Parts of the letter were blacked out before it was released.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had not been presented with a file for a charging decision.

"The CPS is providing early investigative advice in relation to allegations of sexual offences committed by a 74-year-old man, interviewed by police in August 2014," it said in a statement.

Image caption Officers raided Sir Cliff's Berkshire home on 14 August, last year

"The allegations remain under investigation by South Yorkshire Police."

It comes after an independent report concluded that police should not have released "highly confidential" details to the BBC about the planned search of Sir Cliff Richard's home.

A deal over the details was made when a BBC reporter told the force he knew they were investigating the star.

The report looked into a subsequent agreement between South Yorkshire Police and the BBC, which led to the raid being broadcast live.

South Yorkshire Police had "interfered with the star's privacy" by telling the broadcaster about the raid, the report said.

A statement from Sir Cliff's lawyers at the time said the coverage caused "immeasurable harm" to the star.

A BBC spokesman said the Home Affairs committee had "already endorsed the way the BBC handled this story."

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said six recommendations in the report "will be implemented".

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