London: British police have spent six hours searching the apartment of pop legend Cliff Richard, over an allegation of a sex offence dating back to the 1980s.
The allegation related to a boy under the age of 16.
A team of around eight plain clothes officers in five unmarked police cars arrived at the apartment - the penthouse of a big complex in Berkshire - at 9.30 on Thursday morning, local time.
In a statement, South Yorkshire Police said they had gained entry to the Sunningdale property after obtaining a search warrant.
"No-one has been arrested and the owner of the property was not present," the statement said.
"A search warrant was granted after police received an allegation of a sexual nature dating back to the 1980s involving a boy who was under the age of 16 at the time," a spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said.
ITV reported that the alleged sex offence took place in 1985 at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium in South Yorkshire, during a rally headlined by US evangelist Billy Graham.
It is reported that Sir Cliff, 73, is on holiday in Portugal.
Items have been taken from the home, according to reports.
On Thursday afternoon Sir Cliff issued a statement denying the allegations.
“For many months I have been aware of allegations against me of historic impropriety which have been circulating online," Sir Cliff said. "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.”
The online rumour mill has for several years repeatedly recycled rumours that Sir Cliff was being investigated for sex offences - however, none of the rumours have been substantiated until now.
The search was not connected to Operation Yewtree, the BBC said, but officers from that operation have been notified.
Sir Cliff, two-time Eurovision winner and committed Christian, won fame with songs such as Devil Woman and Living Doll.
He has sold more than 250 million records over his career and was nicknamed the Peter Pan of Pop for his enduring youthful looks.
He reportedly shunned the sex, drugs and alcohol lifestyle of the 60s and 70s, and in 1995 became the first British rock star to be knighted.
The singer, born Harry Webb, is one of the most successful British musicians of all time.