Sir Cliff Richard has said he is “thrilled” he will face no further action over “vile accusations” of historical sexual abuse.
The 75-year-old singer spoke out after the Crown Prosecution Service said there was “insufficient evidence to prosecute” and South Yorkshire Police said it “apologised wholeheartedly” for its “initial handling of the media interest” in its investigation.
Sir Cliff said: “I have always maintained my innocence, co-operated fully with the investigation, and cannot understand why it has taken so long to get to this point!
“Nevertheless, I am obviously thrilled that the vile accusations and the resulting investigation have finally been brought to a close.
“Ever since the highly-publicised and BBC-filmed raid on my home I have chosen not to speak publicly.
“Even though I was under pressure to ‘speak out’, other than to state my innocence, which was easy for me to do as I have never molested anyone in my life, I chose to remain silent.
“This was despite the widely-shared sense of injustice resulting from the high-profile fumbling of my case from day one. Other than in exceptional cases, people who are facing allegations should never be named publicly until charged.
“I was named before I was even interviewed and for me that was like being hung out like ‘live bait’.
“It is obvious that such strategies simply increase the risk of attracting spurious claims which not only tie up police resources and waste public funds, but they forever tarnish the reputations of innocent people.”
The initial raid by detectives from South Yorkshire Police on Sir Cliff’s home in Berkshire in August 2014 was broadcast live on TV, following a controversial agreement between the BBC and the force.
South Yorkshire Police said it “apologised wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused by our initial handling of the media interest in this case”.
It added: “Following an initial allegation received by the force in April 2014, South Yorkshire detectives have explored and gathered all information available and carried out a thorough and detailed investigation, which has covered the UK and abroad.
“The investigation, which has spanned two years, is estimated to have cost in the region of £800,000, including staffing costs.
“After careful consideration of the evidence provided to them, the CPS has concluded that no further action should be taken against the man due to there being insufficient evidence to prosecute.
“A further five allegations considered by the investigation team did not meet the threshold for referral to CPS for a charging decision.
“South Yorkshire Police accept the decision of the CPS in this case and all those involved have been informed.”
Martin Goldman, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “The CPS has carefully reviewed evidence relating to claims of non-recent sexual offences dating between 1958 and 1983 made by four men.
“We have decided that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute.
“This decision has been made in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and our guidance for prosecutors on cases of sexual offences.”