Tuesday 10 December 2019

I thought I was going to die, reveals Cliff Richard in first interview about sex abuse allegations

Cliff Richard: wants complete review of police procedures. Photo: PA
Cliff Richard: wants complete review of police procedures. Photo: PA
Sir Cliff revealed the toll the inquiry took on his health

Lydia Willgress

Cliff Richard has revealed he thought he was “going to die” in the months after being told he was facing sex abuse allegations, as he said a police apology would never truly alleviate what he has been through.

The singer, 75, opened up about his “two years of hell”, which included a public raid on his Berkshire home, in his first interview since being told prosecutors had “insufficient evidence” to pursue the claims.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Sir Cliff spoke candidly of the moment he was told in August 2014 that officers had a warrant to raid his UK property while on holiday with his sister and friends in Portugal.

He revealed he immediately told his apartment block manager to let the police in as he didn’t want them “smashing the door down”. He did not know the raid, along with the revelation he was facing sex abuse allegations, would be broadcast publicly until the calls started. He was then forced to watch BBC news footage of the search on his home, with police removing items including postcards from his mother and private notes from Princess Diana.

“I didn’t vomit but the greatest knot in the stomach arrived,” he said. “It was like a boulder. You know, you just have that: “God, what is happening to me?”’

The singer was taken back to his Portuguese villa but said despite immediate media attention, the accusation did not sink in until the following day. “That was the moment of my biggest despair,” he said. “I just collapsed. I couldn’t image what depression was like, but I have an idea now. I felt as though I was in this hole and I had no means of getting out.” 

The following months would be the start of a two-year police investigation, which cost an estimated £800,000. It emerged later that four men had made allegations dating between 1958 and 1983.

At times, Sir Cliff said he did not know how he could face the future. The ordeal caused him to lose weight - so much he felt he was “disappearing” - and he became increasingly concerned for his physical and mental wellbeing. “I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. I thought I was going to die,” he said.

On Thursday, it was announced Sir Cliff would not face any charges as the Crown Prosecution Service threw out the allegations after just a month of considering them. The decision prompted South Yorkshire Police to apologise “wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused” to Sir Cliff by the force’s “initial handling of the media interest”.

But it did little to appease the veteran entertainer, who described himself as being treated like “live bait”. He also said he felt like he was guilty until proven innocent throughout the ordeal.

He is now hoping he can move on and put the allegations behind him, although he accepts he will never be able to forget what happened.


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