Saturday 14 December 2019

Cliff Richard sex abuse accuser ‘previously arrested over blackmail plot'

Police and Crown Prosecution Service under scrutiny after blackmailer's claims taken seriously

Cliff Richard: wants complete review of police procedures. Photo: PA
Cliff Richard: wants complete review of police procedures. Photo: PA

A man that accused Sir Cliff Richard of sex abuse was arrested over a plot to blackmail the singer it has emerged, yet his claims were still investigated by police.

After seeing the police raid at the 75-year-old singer’s home on television, the alleged victim threatened to spread “false stories” unless he received a sum of money, according to the Sunday People.

The man, who remains unnamed, is said to have ­contacted Sir Cliff’s aides with the demands. But after being arrested and questioned by police, a second force reportedly took his claims of abuse seriously.

The way that the 22-month investigation revelation has been dealt with has come under increased scrutiny, putting pressure on the police and Crown Prosecution Service, after Sir Cliff complained he was “hung out for live bait”.

Read More: Daniel O’Donnell 'absolutely thrilled' Cliff Richard cleared of historic sex abuse claims

He said in a statement: “Other than in ­exceptional cases, people who are facing ­allegations should not be named publicly until charged.

“I have always maintained my innocence. I cannot understand why it has taken so long to get to this point.”

Sir Cliff will face no further action over allegations after a South Yorkshire Police investigation this week found there was "insufficient evidence to prosecute".

Read More: Sir Cliff urges police procedures review after naming over sex abuse allegations

Geoffrey Robertson QC, a leading human rights lawyer, criticised police for raiding Sir Cliff's house "as though he were a bank robber or a mass murderer".

Mr Robertson wrote in The Independent: “The police from Thames Valley and South Yorkshire, aided and abetted by the BBC and a Sheffield lay justice, have blasted his reputation around the world without giving him the first and most basic right to refute the allegation.

“The police, by choosing to raid the property in broad daylight where they must have known its occupant was away, deliberately chose to defame him.

Read More: Cliff may sue police, BBC after false allegations of sex abuse

"It is clear from their behaviour that an Englishman’s home is no longer a castle – even when, in Cliff Richard’s case, it is."

The man investigated for blackmail, in his forties and said to have had mental health problems, was granted strict bail conditions by police, prohibiting him from contacting Sir Cliff, his relatives or his PR team.

But the accuser became a key witness after detectives interviewed him on three separate occasions at his house in the Home Counties. There are no charges against him.

Sir Cliff was never arrested or charged with any crime but is said to be considering legal action against the CPS. His Berkshire home was raided by police in August 2014.

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