Wednesday 29 January 2020

BBC 'tainted all I worked for', says Cliff

Sir Richard was named by BBC. Photo: Yui Mok/PA
Sir Richard was named by BBC. Photo: Yui Mok/PA

Victoria Ward

Cliff Richard broke down in court yesterday as he blamed the BBC for the way his name had been "forever tainted".

The 77-year-old singer was giving evidence in his legal action against the corporation for its coverage of the police search at his home following an alleged sex offence involving a minor.

He said the BBC's decision to identify him that day in August 2014 had turned his life upside down, portraying him as a "serious criminal".

"I know I didn't do it, he (the accuser) knows I didn't do it, God knows I didn't do it but unfortunately for me, it's lasted a lot longer than I could have thought," he said.

"It felt as though everything I had worked for during my life - trying to live as honestly and honourably as I could - was being torn apart. I felt forever tainted. I still do."

Cliff was on holiday with friends in Portugal when he was informed the police had a warrant to search his home in Sunningdale, Berks.

It left him "a bit shaken" as he had no idea why they were there. He then received a call telling him that a criminal allegation had been made against him dating back to 1985 involving a male who was under 16.

He went to his hotel room and put on the TV news. "I could see the police going through the drawers in one of the rooms," he said.

"It was like I was watching burglars in my apartment, going through my personal belongings."

Cliff spent 90 minutes on the stand, visibly nervous.

When Cliff had finished his evidence, he stepped off the stand straight into the arms of Gloria Hunniford, his close friend, and broke down in tears.

He revealed that the legal action had cost him more than £3.4m (€3.9m).

He said he had found it "really painful" to read that the BBC had then criticised him for spending too much money on lawyers.

"This was such a vile, serious allegation, I took it seriously," he said.

Cliff said he waited 22 months before being told that prosecutors would take no further action.

The hearing, which began on Thursday, is due to last 10 days.

Irish Independent

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