SIR Cliff Richard will face no further action over allegations of historical sexual abuse after a South Yorkshire Police investigation found there was "insufficient evidence to prosecute".
It is almost two years since the 75-year-old singer's home was raided by police, and the force sent its "full file" of evidence to the Crown Prosecution service in mid-May.
But after reviewing the file, the CPS has decided to take no further action against Sir Cliff over allegations that he groped young boys.
In a statement, the CPS's Martin Goldman said the service had "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."
Sir Cliff has now spoken publicly for the first time on the investigation, saying he was "obviously thrilled" by the CPS's decision.
He said: "After almost two years under police investigation I learnt today that they have finally closed their enquiries.
"I have always maintained my innocence and 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."
Mr Goldman said the CPS worked with police to "minimise the time needed to reach a decision".
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Antony Stansfield, had said Sir Cliff was left in the dark over abuse claims for an "unacceptable" period of time.
During the investigation, Sir Cliff volunteered to be interviewed twice by police, the first time after a man came forward to claim he had been groped by the singer at a Christian rally in 1985.
It draws to a close a difficult period for the singer, which began very publicly with the police raid on his £3m home in August 2014.
South Yorkshire Police was later criticised by the Home Affairs Select Committee for tipping off a reporter about the timing of the raid, which ended up being shown in dramatic helicopter footage on the BBC.
The MPs said nobody should have to watch their home being raided live on TV, and that the singer was owed an apology.
In its statement today, the force 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.
Read Sir Cliff Richard's full statement to the court below:
"After almost two years under police investigation I learned today that they have finally closed their inquiries.
"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.
"There have been numerous occasions in recent years where this has occurred, and I feel very strongly that no innocent person should be treated in this way.
"I know the truth and in some people's eyes the CPS announcement today doesn't go far enough because it doesn't expressly state that I am innocent; which of course I am. There lies the problem.
"My reputation will not be fully vindicated because the CPS's policy is to only say something general about there being 'insufficient' evidence.
"How can there be evidence for something that never took place! This is also a reason why people should never be named publicly until they have been charged unless there are exceptional circumstances.
"To my fans and members of the public, to the press and media, all of whom continued to show me such encouraging and wonderful support, I would like to say 'thank you' - it would have been so much harder without you."
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