British police say an investigation into sexual abuse allegations levelled against singer Cliff Richard has now “increased significantly in size”.
South Yorkshire’s chief constable David Crompton revealed the investigation had widened in a letter to the chairman of parliament’s home affairs committee.
“Sir Cliff Richard’s lawyers are aware that there is more than one allegation,” he wrote.
“It would be premature and potentially misleading to predict a likely date when it will be concluded.
“However, we are progressing as swiftly as possible.”
Sir Cliff, 74, has described the allegations as “absurd and untrue”.
“I have no idea where these absurd and untrue allegations come from,” he said in a statement.
“I have never, in my life, assaulted anyone and I remain confident that the truth will prevail.”
Officers raided Sir Cliff’s home in Berkshire, west of London, in August when he was on holiday, over allegations which dated back to the 1980s and involved an underage boy.
The singer, known for hits including Devil Woman and Living Doll, was later interviewed under caution but not arrested or charged with any crime.
The raid on his house was filmed by BBC cameras after the broadcaster was given advance warning,leading to criticism from MPs who described that cooperation as “inept” and causing “irreparable damage” to the singer’s reputation.
The allegations against Sir Cliff are not related to Operation Yewtree – the operation that emanated out of the Jimmy Savile scandal and which saw Rolf Harris arrested and eventually convicted.
Born Harry Webb in India in 1940, Sir Cliff has had 14 Number 1 singles in Britain and is the only singer to have topped the UK singles chart in five consecutive decades, from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Touted as Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley in his early days, he shot to stardom in 1958 with Move It and followed up in 1959 with Living Doll, while cementing his reputation as a heart-throb with starring roles in film musicals The Young Ones in 1961 and Summer Holiday in 1963.
With his backing group The Shadows, Sir Cliff was one of Britain’s most successful performers in the pre-Beatles era of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
He sold more than 250 million records over his career and was nicknamed the Peter Pan of Pop for his enduring youthful looks.
A committed Christian who shunned the sex, drugs and alcohol lifestyle, in 1995 he became the first British rock star to be knighted.