Sir Cliff ignores sex abuse questions at 75th birthday tour opener

Cliff Richard arrives at the INEC in Killarney, Co. Kerry, where he starts off his 75th Birthday Tour
Cliff Richard arrives at the INEC in Killarney, Co. Kerry, where he starts off his 75th Birthday Tour

Sir Cliff Richard has declined to answer questions about sex abuse allegations as he took to the stage for the opening show of his 75th birthday tour.

The Living Doll singer was playing in front of several thousand fans at the Killarney’s INEC in Ireland before he takes his latest show to the UK.

Sir Cliff spoke briefly to thank fans on the way in to the venue - his first stage appearances since the allegations emerged over a year ago - insisting he had to be “a little precious” about his voice.

He ignored questions about the police inquiry.

Sir Cliff previously said the claims against him were “absurd and untrue” and he had “never, in my life, assaulted anyone”.

The singer was interviewed under caution but he has not been arrested and no charges have been brought.

Fans in Killarney jumped to his defence.

One of the devotees was Bernie Downes from Oxford, who first saw Sir Cliff perform in 1969, and followed it up by attending more than 200 shows.

“I’m really happy that Cliff is doing another tour to celebrate his 75th birthday and everything else,” she said.

“He’s had a lot of problems over this last year with people he knows, close friends, Cilla Black’s death and things in his personal life.”

“It all started with that Jimmy Savile.”

Betty Carroll, from Liverpool, first saw Sir Cliff in the city’s Empire club in 1959, but did not see him again until 1986 when she began travelling worldwide to catch his shows.

“Someone is trying to get him somewhere,” she said about the allegations.

“I don’t believe a word of it.”

“John Lennon once said something horrible about him and I said to him ‘if I was you I’d hit him’ and he said it’s his opinion and everyone’s entitled to that.”

Joan Batten, from Penmaenmawr in north Wales, was in the same church as Sir Cliff, St Paul’s in Finchley, north London, for six years from the late 1960s.

“These people who laugh about him have not met him or seen him in concert,” she said.

Ms Batten, who played badminton with Sir Cliff and attended parties and dinners with him, said: “He’s a complete and true gentleman.

“There’s absolutely no other side to him, what you see is what you get.

“I’ve never seen him be nasty to anyone.”

The BBC broadcast the search of the singer’s Berkshire home in August last year when an allegation of a sexual assault of a boy in the 1980s first emerged.

An independent report into South Yorkshire Police’s contact with the press prior to the raid found the force’s agreement with the BBC - made after a reporter went to the force saying he knew they were investigating the veteran entertainer - ‘’interfered” with Sir Cliff’s privacy and “may well have caused unnecessary distress’’.

The Home Affairs Committee branded South Yorkshire Police ‘’inept’’ over their handling of the event and said the force should have refused to co-operate with the BBC.

The investigation by South Yorkshire Police was said to have ‘’increased significantly in size’’ to involve ‘’more than one allegation’’ Chief Constable David Crompton said in a letter to Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.