For many years, Cliff Richard's name has been associated with rumours around a predilection for young boys in the murky underbelly of the internet. In particular, his name has been linked with a visitor list associated with the Elm Guest House - said to have been used for various devious sexual practices during the 1970s and 1980s. Today it was announced that the singer's Berkshire home is being searched in relation to investigations into historic sexual abuse allegations.
These allegations are that he was inappropriately involved with a boy at an evangelist event at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane ground in the mid 80s. This has been rumoured for quite a while on the internet, but is only one of two rumours.
Until now, we have refused to publish his name in connection with either of these allegations (although many sites have already done so) but to recap the second in brief seems appropriate at this time in light of this publicly announced investigation.
A list of names associated with the Elm Guest House has been in circulation on the internet for several years following an investigation by then Daily Mirror reporter Mary Moss, who acquired many documents relating to the home from its one time owner. These documents were later seized by police.
Among the names on the list were several obvious pseudonyms - including 'Kitty.' It is widely alleged that 'Kitty' was the pseudonym given to Cliff Richard.
At this time, Sir Cliff has neither been arrested nor charged with any offence, and police have stressed that the search is not related to Operation Yewtree, although Yewtree have been notified. This obviously doesn't preclude the possibility that this search is being conducted under the auspices of one of the ongoing investigations into Elm House - most notably Operation Fernbridge.
Again, we stress that nothing at this time has been officially released into the public domain to implicate Cliff Richard in any wrongdoing besides a specific and as yet unproven allegation about offences against a then-underage boy from South Yorkshire during the 1980s.
Since the story broke, Sir Cliff has issued a denial through his publicists - specifically about the online rumours:
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."
Sir Cliff revoked his UK citizenship in 2010 and became an official resident of Barbados. Some on the internet labour under the false impression that the Barbadian government has no extradition agreement with the United Kingdom and that it is a 'safe haven' from UK law. In fact (as detailed by the CPS
) extradition is possible from Barbados, but the process must be signed off by both the courts and the Secretary of State before a request is made to the government of that country, which is party to a number of bilateral treaties and UN international agreements regarding foreign arrest warrants.
Update February 2015
In February 2015, South Yorkshire police - who are leading the enquiry into the singer - informed the media that they were "significantly expanding" the enquiry following the discovery of further allegations. The precise nature of the allegations was not made public.
Richard has neither been arrested nor charged, and has maintained his innocence through his publicists.
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