Blast from the Past: The Cliff Richard Scandal, after so many years

To buy myself some time while I figure out how WordPress works and how to make the most out of my new blog, I decided that my first several posts will be “Blasts from the Past.”These are posts that I’ve written for my other blogs in the past that I am sharing so that this new blog, which I have every intention on keeping and not giving up on, starts out with some good content.

 

So without further ado, here is my first Blast. Recently, in my soon-to-be-extinct other blog, I wrote about a developing story in Britain. Cliff Richard, the legendary British singer, has been accused of a “historic” allegation of sexual abuse. While Sir Cliff was out of the country–and without letting him know they were coming–British police and the BBC raided his apartment and confiscated several items. Britain, unlike the rest of the world, has no statute of limitations of alleged sex abuse charges. Here is what I had to say about this story. 

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30 years after Sir Cliff Richard, the legendary British musician, joined Billy Graham on stage in Sheffield, England to sing and announce to thousands his story of finding and accepting a Christian faith he is now being accused of one of the worst un-Christian crimes possible. A man (who has yet to reveal his identity) recently reported to police that he had been sexually abused by Sir Cliff during that event when the man in question was only sixteen years old. Great Britain, unlike the U.S. and several major European nations, does not have a statute of limitations of sexual abuse. As a result, on Thursday morning police invade the singer’s apartment in Berkshire, surrounded by the media, and confiscating several items from the apartment for investigation. Sir Cliff, in the meantime, was on vacation in Portugal, and does not even live permanently in the UK anyway. Apparently Cliff was the last person to find out about the search warrant or the giant news party that erupted because of it.

While people are jumping to take sides in this situation, even as more and more people are starting to come forward with information, the British news is admitting that Cliff is angry about the intrusion.

Well, duh! Who wouldn’t be?

The police have a warrant, which is great. Under British law (Section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) search warrants can be issued to police by a magistrate’s court if:

  • A criminal offence of a sufficiently serious nature has been committed. (Indeed, sexual abuse is definitely a serious business. However, at this point it is still an allegation, not an actual offense.)
  • There is material evidence on the premises that is likely to aid a criminal investigation. (Unlikely, since the alleged assault happened almost thirty years ago. What could they possibly find in his apartment after all those years that could link him to the crime?)
  • It is not practical to obtain the evidence without a warrant being granted. (In this case, I doubt it matters much if there was a warrant or not.)
  • That the purpose of the search will be seriously prejudiced if the police officer cannot have immediate access to the property upon arriving at the premises. (It’s already prejudiced. Thirty years have passed!)

In short, the police were quick to ask for a warrant after somebody claims to have been hurt by a famous singer twenty nine years ago. For some reason they also found it necessary to take several items from his home that somehow or another are important to their investigation, and they chose to execute their warrant without letting Cliff Richard know first. They should have at least had the common courtesy to notify him that his home was going to be searched so that he might be there to make sure everything went smoothly, and to possibly aid in their investigation. Hopefully someone was there to make sure the limitations of the warrant were upheld.

The various news outlets I checked out have not mentioned what items were taken from his apartment, but it is hard to conceive what he could have had in his vacation home (which is essentially what that Berkshire apartment is) that could be relevant to his case.

Unless, of course, Cliff Richard is an obsessed, perverted, OCD stalker who keeps souvenirs from his sex victims and the police were fortunately able to recover them. I find this HIGHLY unlikely. Even if he did, in fact, perpetrate the alleged assault, why would he keep any kind of evidence in his apartment, or better yet keep it at all? He has residences in Portugal and Barbados, as well, which he spends more time at than anywhere else. A reasonable person would think that if he did feel the need to keep anything that might incriminate him in one of those countries that he would have the smarts to move those artifacts to one of the other countries he lives in that are outside the other’s jurisdiction.

As for the man waiting almost three decades to report the matter to police, who knows what might have inspired this. The news people seem to think that the notorious Jimmy Savile scandal gave him the courage to step forward. Maybe he decided he had a religious or personal obligation to report it that had nothing to do with Jimmy Savile. The world may never know. People also have to remember that at this point there’s even a chance that the guy is telling a big fat fib and this is his pay of achieving media notoriety and inflicting a cruel and senseless blow against Cliff Richard for no good reason.

Regardless, I am very interested to see where this investigation leads, especially when dealing with the amount of time that has surpassed since the alleged crime in question took place. It is highly unlikely that, unless Cliff Richard is a sociopath that keeps treasures of his attacks decades later, there won’t be much physical evidence tying him to a crime. Whether something dreadfully serious happened thirty years ago or a man is seeking his claim to infamy now remains to be seen. I’d hate to see Cliff Richard labeled as a hypocrite for doing something sinful at a Christian concert.

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