CPS 'will look at' Cliff Richard accuser's no-charges challenge within 28 days

Sir Cliff Richard will not have to wait months for the conclusion of a review into the decision not to charge him over abuse allegations, the Director of Public Prosecutions has said.

Alison Saunders stressed that the review was triggered by one of Sir Cliff's accusers and not by prosecutors, and that the decision would not be overturned unless it was found to have been wrong.

The 75-year-old singer was investigated over sexual assault accusations made by four men dating between 1958 and 1983, but the case was discontinued without arrest or charge on grounds of insufficient evidence.

A review of the Crown Prosecution Service decision was ordered at the beginning of August after a challenge was lodged by one of the accusers under the victims' right to review scheme.

A spokesman for the veteran entertainer said at the time that Sir Cliff was "confident" the review would "come to the right conclusion" and urged investigators to do so "as soon as possible".

On Tuesday, the DPP was challenged over whether the review meant that the singer will be "hung out to dry" for months on end waiting for the threat of prosecution finally to be lifted.

Ms Saunders told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "Absolutely not. We are very conscious of the need to have finality for everybody involved."

The CPS has a target of completing reviews within 28 days and there are time limits for accusers to demand a review, she said.

Ms Saunders added: "We published our Victims' Right to Review scheme about two years ago in response to both a domestic Court of Appeal case and the European directive on victims' rights, both of which said that there must be the ability for victims to challenge a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute."

The scheme makes it clear that the right is to challenge the decision, but we only overturn these decisions if we think that the original decision was wrong.

Alison Saunders