Detectives are making arrangements to interview Sir Cliff Richard following a search of his £3.1m penthouse apartment over an alleged sex crime against a boy at an evangelist event at a Sheffield stadium in 1985.
Sir Cliff, 73, who is currently in Portugal, has been told through his lawyers of the request to meet police.
The pop star described the allegation made against him, dating back to an appearance by the American evangelist Billy Graham at Bramall Lane, as “completely false”.
In a statement, Sir Cliff said he had previously chosen not to acknowledge the allegation, which had been circulating for months online. He had not been pre-warned of the operation by South Yorkshire police at his penthouse on a private estate in Berkshire and is currently in Portugal, where he has a home. His lawyers contacted the police when they first learned of the search.
Sir Cliff said: “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.
Cliff Richard: Life in pictures
Cliff Richard: Life in pictures
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Richard aged 18 at the Hulton Boys and Girls Exhibition at Olympia's Disc Theatre in August 1959 when he was lead singer of the Drifters
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Pictured in 1962 with members of the Shadows, his backing group. Next to him is Bruce Welch, who played rhythm guitar
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With his backing group, the Shadows, Richard became a massive pop star in the 1960s with a string of hit albums and singles including ‘I love You’ (1960), ‘the Young Ones (1961), Bachelor Boy (1962) and ‘Summer Holiday (1963)
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With his mother, Dorothy, and one of his sisters in 1964
Michael Stroud/Daily Express/Hulton Archive
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Outside the Royal Albert Hall where he represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in October 1967
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Cliff Richard in 1968
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Cliff Richard poses in front of his disc awards in the 1970s
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On stage at the 1981 Royal Variety Performance, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London
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In an interview with the Daily Mail in 2008, Sir Cliff is reported as saying: "Of all the women I've known, there were only two that I've come close to marrying. One was Jackie Irving, a dancer whom I met in Blackpool. She was utterly beautiful and for a while we were inseparable. The other girl I came close to asking was Sue Barker, whom I met in 1982"
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Orchestrating a round of singing as rain delays play during the 1996 Wimbledon tennis championships
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Performing a duet with Flemish singer Helmut Lotti during a rehearsal of Lotti's album and TV broadcast 'Pop Classics' on 6 August 2003 in Brussels
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Performing on stage during the 'Intelligent Finance Cliff Richard Tennis Classic' at Birmingham National Indoor Arena on 18 December 2004
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Arriving with Brian May at the Royal Film Performance and World Premiere of 'The Chronicles Of Narnia' at the Royal Albert Hall on 7 December 2005 in London
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Unveiling a plaque of his handprints in Wembley Arena's Square of Fame on 9 November 2006 in London
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Sir Cliff Richard and The Shadows performs live on stage at the O2 Arena in London on 28 September 2009
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Cliff Richard attends a press conference to announce details of his new album at Gilgamesh on 7 March 2011 in London
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Queen Elizabeth II is introduced to Sir Cliff Richard backstage after the Diamond Jubilee, Buckingham Palace Concert on 4 June 2012, along with Sir Elton John, Sir Tom Jones, Paul McCartney, and Shirely Bassey
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Sir Cliff Richard at the 2012 US Open. The crooner claimed One Direction still compete with him to 'look cool'
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Performing on stage during the Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace in 2012
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Cliff Richard attends the 'Willkommen bei Carmen Nebel' show at Volkswagen Halle on 23 November 2013 in Braunschweig, Germany
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Richard, 73, is one of the most successful British recording artists
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Sir Cliff, born Harry Webb, has sold an estimated 21.5 million singles in the UK and 250 million worldwide during a career spanning over 50 years
“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.”
Police were at the apartment at the estate in Sunningdale for around five hours yesterday. Helicopters pictured officers removing disposable gloves behind the windows of what appeared to be an office in the apartment that Sir Cliff bought six years ago. He also has homes in Portugal and Barbados.
His publicists were last night unable to say when he would be returning to Britain. Police said that the investigation was at a very early stage and it was not yet apparent where officers would speak to the singer.
Video: Police hold press conference after search
The allegation was made “recently” against Sir Cliff and involves only one complaint. The Metropolitan Police has headed previous inquiries into high-profile celebrities – which have led to successful prosecutions of Rolf Harris and the publicist Max Clifford – but they deal only with cases with more than one complainant and which span across force areas, South Yorkshire police said.
Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, of South Yorkshire Police, said the investigation was at a very early stage and nobody had been arrested. “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,” he said.
Preacher Billy Graham attracted some 24,000 people to the first of eight nights of sermons at the Sheffield football stadium, according to reports of the time. When he invited people to come forward to show a commitment to Jesus, 2,000 people walked onto the pitch.