According to the BBC, Cliff Richard’s home has been searched in connection with claims of a sexual assault committed in 1985 against a male who was, at the time, under the age of sixteen. They entered his property while he was away, and he appears only to have heard about the search via the media.
I comment as follows:
1. Let us make the unlikely assumption that the complainant was two in 1985. He would now be 31. More likely, he is in his forties. What has he been doing for the past 29 years?
2. What evidence did the police expect to find after 29 years? Why did they send eight officers to search Mr Richard’s house? Why did they not contact him before the search? Why did they tell the media instead?
3. I believe that no one should be charged with any offence alleged to have happened more than three years before a complaint, where the only evidence is the word of a complainant. This limitation does not apply to charges supported by objective evidence. Also, I allow exceptions where the complainant was under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offence – though only so far as charges may be brought within one year after a complainant has reached the age of 18. At present in this country, old men are being put on trial, on the unsupported word of anonymous complainants, for offences alleged to have been committed in the distant past. This is not justice.
Here is Mr Richard’s comment on the search:
“For many months I have been aware of allegations against me of historic impropriety which have been circulating online. These 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 allegations are completely false it would not be appropriate to say anything further until the police investigation is concluded.”