Police have been contacted by “a number of people” with information following the widespread media coverage of a search of Sir Cliff Richard’s home.
The singer’s Berkshire penthouse was scoured for five hours yesterday by officers from South Yorkshire and Thames Valley Police as part of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault on a young boy at a religious event in 1985.
Sir Cliff, who was away in Portugal when the search took place, firmly denied any wrongdoing and hit out at the fact BBC journalists were apparently tipped off about the plan.
The broadcaster’s head of newsgathering Jonathan Munro said today the information did not come from South Yorkshire Police.
In a statement, the force said: “When a media outlet contacted South Yorkshire Police with information about an investigation, we took the decision to work with them in order to protect the integrity of that investigation.
“Since the search took place a number of people have contacted the police to provide information and we must acknowledge that the media played a part in that, for which we are grateful.”
Thames Valley Police said it had no contact with the media before the search warrant was executed.
The investigation is focused on an alleged assault claimed to have taken place on a boy under 16 at an appearance by American evangelist Billy Graham in Sheffield in 1985.
Officers took a number of items from the property for further investigation after yesterday’s search.
In a statement Sir Cliff said: “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 without notice, except it would appear to the press.
“I am not presently in the UK but it goes without saying that I will co-operate 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.”
Conservative MP Nigel Evans, 56, referred to the case in reiterating his call for suspects in sex offence cases to get anonymity and said “questions have got to be answered” over Sir Cliff’s claims the press had been notified about the search.
Mr Evans, who was cleared of a string of alleged sex offences at a trial earlier this year, told Good Morning Britain: “It appears the press knew what was happening before he did and the world’s media were camped outside his doorstep.
“A press helicopter was up before the police even arrived – he is quite right to be angry about that. Questions have got to be answered.
“I believe in the vast majority of cases (suspects) should have anonymity. We have to recognise the impact this has on people.
“People have zero per cent of the facts and 100% of the opinions. It’s quite wrong for people to pre-judge.”
Former director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer has previously said that there should be “wriggle room” for naming suspects on arrest, as publicity can lead to more alleged victims coming forward.
Born as Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, in 1940, Sir Cliff has become one of the most enduring stars of his time, with hits including Devil Woman and Living Doll.
He was knighted in 1995, the first rock star to be so honoured, and performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace in 2012.