Sir Cliff Richard to face no action over historical sex abuse allegations
Singer Cliff Richard, 75, is to face no further action following the South Yorkshire Police investigation into allegations of historical sexual abuse, it has been announced.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it had "carefully reviewed" the case and decided there was "insufficient evidence to prosecute".
In a statement, Sir Cliff said: "After almost two years under police investigation I learnt today that they have finally closed their enquiries.
"I have always maintained my innocence, co-operated fully with the investigation, and cannot understand why it has taken so long to get to this point! Nevertheless, I am obviously thrilled that the vile accusations and the resulting investigation have finally been brought to a close.
"Ever since the highly-publicised and BBC-filmed raid on my home I have chosen not to speak publicly. Even though I was under pressure to 'speak out', other than to state my innocence, which was easy for me to do as I have never molested anyone in my life, I chose to remain silent.
"This was despite the widely-shared sense of injustice resulting from the high-profile fumbling of my case from day one. Other than in exceptional cases, people who are facing allegations should never be named publicly until charged.
"I was named before I was even interviewed and for me that was like being hung out like 'live bait'. It is obvious that such strategies simply increase the risk of attracting spurious claims which not only tie up police resources and waste public funds, but they forever tarnish the reputations of innocent people.
"There have been numerous occasions in recent years where this has occurred, and I feel very strongly that no innocent person should be treated in this way.
"I know the truth and in some peoples' eyes the CPS' announcement today doesn't go far enough because it doesn't expressly state that I am innocent; which of course I am. There lies the problem.
"My reputation will not be fully vindicated because the CPS' policy is to only say something general about there being 'insufficient' evidence.
"How can there be evidence for something that never took place! This is also a reason why people should never be named publicly until they have been charged unless there are exceptional circumstances.
"To my fans and members of the public, to the press and media, all of whom continued to show me such encouraging and wonderful support, I would like to say "thank you" it would have been so much harder without you."
In a statement South Yorkshire Police said: "In May this year, South Yorkshire Police presented the final investigation files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) relating to four allegations of non-recent sexual abuse involving a 75-year-old man.
"After careful consideration of the evidence provided to them, the CPS has concluded that no further action should be taken against the man due to there being insufficient evidence to prosecute. A further five allegations considered by the investigation team did not meet the threshold for referral to CPS for a charging decision.
"South Yorkshire Police accept the decision of the CPS in this case and all those involved have been informed.
"The force apologises wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused by our initial handling of the media interest in this case and has implemented the learning from this and the subsequent review conducted by former Chief Constable Andy Trotter.
"Following an initial allegation received by the force in April 2014, South Yorkshire detectives have explored and gathered all information available and carried out a thorough and detailed investigation, which has covered the UK and abroad. The investigation, which has spanned two years, is estimated to have cost in the region of £800,000, including staffing costs.
"Non-recent allegations are, by their very nature, complex and difficult matters to investigate and can take a considerable amount of time. We appreciate that waiting for a conclusion will undoubtedly have caused additional distress to all those involved and we have made every effort to ensure this has been as timely as possible.
"However, it is in the interests of justice to investigate such matters thoroughly. We have a duty to explore any allegations relating to sexual abuse and other crimes and will go wherever the evidence takes us in order to protect victims and stop offending.
"We encourage victims of non-recent abuse to have the confidence to come forward, knowing they will be listened to and that their allegations will be taken seriously and investigated. It is also important for those under investigation to know they will be treated fairly.
"Whilst recognising how difficult it is for a person to be under investigation and have their innocence publicly called into question, South Yorkshire Police acknowledges and takes seriously its responsibility to fully investigate allegations of non-recent abuse."