Cliff Richard talks about his false allegation and how it affected him and his friends and family. Anonymity is not afforded to the accused while an accuser will be entitled to anonymity no matter whether the accusation turns out to be true or false.
“What we have to do is stop the fake accusers……..I’ve been through 4 years of absolute turmoil”
Sir Cliff Richard has told MPs and peers he fears he will be “forever tainted” after being wrongly accused of sex offences.
The singer, who is suing the BBC and South Yorkshire police after a raid on his home was televised live, spoke at a private meeting on Monday as part of a campaign to guarantee anonymity for suspects accused of sex crimes.
He told an audience: “The TV circus took away from me all hope of ever being what I had been before, a confident and respected artist, and an ambassador for Great Britain. Had I not been ‘named’ worldwide I feel I would still have been able to look people in the eye and not feel afraid that they might be thinking that there is ‘no smoke without fire’.
“Instead, I fear I will forever be tainted by the lurid and intrusive coverage I received. I have had to bring civil proceedings to obtain redress for these appalling invasions of my privacy by the police and the BBC. But that can never undo all the damage I have suffered. It would have been so much better never to have been in this position at all.”
The 76-year-old told the meeting that he was grateful that his late sister, Donna, had lived long enough to hear that he had been cleared. “Only we who are innocent of any crime but who are named publicly before any charge has been brought, before even being arrested or interviewed by the police, will know the damage caused to our dignity, our standing, and our self-esteem. My name was traduced around the world in all the places where people know me. I believe that there were probably very few countries that did not hear of the ridiculous, appalling accusation made against me.”
Another speaker at the event at the House of Lords was broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who was kept on police bail for 12 months after being arrested on suspicion of historical sex offences in 2013, before being told he would not be charged.
Richard said in a separate written statement that seeing the raid on his home in August 2014 was “like watching my home being broken into – on television” and that he was not given the benefit of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The statement continued: “The situation was made more distressing by the fact that I had to sit by and helplessly watch police officers go through my possessions. I just collapsed.
“The fact of the raid; the false insinuation that I was guilty, knowing that I was innocent; and of course the worldwide press coverage that followed the BBC’s decision to cover the raid, caused me a long period of distress, humiliation, anxiety and illness. As you would expect, I had trouble carrying on with life as normal. The stress was physical and not just mental.”
He said that during the 22-month investigation he suffered from bouts of depression. The singer added: “If I can help bring about change, knowing that it will help others, even though I am all too aware that my own prior reputation will never be fully recovered (something I find devastating at this stage in my life), it will make everything that I’ve been through feel just a little bit more palatable.”