I'll never get over ordeal of being falsely accused, says Sir Cliff Richard

8 June 2022, 20:12 | Updated: 8 June 2022, 20:21

By Megan Hinton

Sir Cliff Richard has said he will never fully "get over" the ordeal of being wrongly accused of historical sex crimes.

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In an exclusive interview with LBC's Iain Dale, beloved music icon Sir Cliff detailed his four year ordeal which caused him to turn into a "zombie," saying the trauma stopped him sleeping for "years".

In a phone-in with LBC callers, one woman, Bernadette, voiced her concern to Sir Cliff about whether or not he will ever fully recover from the allegations, which took a devastating toll on his health.

He replied: "Bernadette I feel that I have got past it you know. I now have my life back, I’m doing tours, I’m recording stuff, I’ve gone past it but I don’t think… I can’t imagine how I’ll ever get over it."

"You know here we are still talking about it and I can remember what it felt like, I can remember going to bed and waking up at 3.15am every damn morning, so I don’t think I will ever get over it but there is always that possibility that you will deal with it… And say everybody knows it was now wrong and I went through a period of dismay and disgust.

"But I am past it so I can now live my life happily..."

The singer told the caller "not to worry for his future" and joked that he enjoyed being on the Jubilee celebration bus on Sunday.

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DJ Paul Gambaccini, singer Sir Cliff Richard and Daniel Janner QC speaking to the media outside the Palace of Westminster in London
DJ Paul Gambaccini, singer Sir Cliff Richard and Daniel Janner QC speaking to the media outside the Palace of Westminster in London. Picture: Alamy

It comes as Sir Cliff Richard and DJ Paul Gambaccini revived a campaign calling for suspects to have their anonymity protected by law unless they are charged.

Both men were falsely accused of historical sex offences and joined forces with pressure group Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform (Fair) to campaign for changes to legislation.

Three years ago the pair said they wanted to "redress the balance" in the legal system as they launched a petition to see those accused of sexual offences remain anonymous until charged, saying this was needed to "protect the reputations of all innocent suspects, whether well-known or not, from the lasting stigma of a false sexual allegation".

The group said the petition received 27,000 signatures before it "had to be abandoned" when the general election was called.

Now they are pressing the Government to include an amendment in the next criminal justice bill because they believe the "law on privacy provides inadequate protection".

At a press conference in the House of Lords on Wednesday afternoon, the pair were joined by former Tory MP Harvey Proctor and barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC to make their case.

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The group want the amendment to make it an offence in England and Wales for someone to identify or publish information about another person being subject of an investigation "in respect of the alleged commission of a sexual offence" unless charged or if there is a court order permitting this.

Sir Cliff, 81, won his privacy case against the BBC over its coverage of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014, following a child sex assault allegation.

The veteran star denied the allegations, he was never arrested and in June 2016 prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.

He told an audience of reporters and campaign supporters he has learnt "how desperate it is to be accused of something you never did. We just need to change it (the law) a little bit. It's just a compromise".

He added: "Every single one of us is innocent until proven guilty, so all we are asking is... that you are not named until you are charged."

Sir Cliff received around £210,000 in damages and £2m towards his legal costs from the BBC when he took the corporation to court after it filmed the police raid on his home in Berkshire in 2014.

The footage, which included aerial shots taken from a helicopter was shown on news bulletins throughout the day.

Police were investigating an allegation made by a man who claimed he was sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff in 1985. But the singer was never arrested or charged and the case was dropped two years later.

The BBC apologised for the "distress" caused to Sir Cliff, who said the allegations and subsequent media coverage were the "worst thing that has happened to me in my entire life".

"What the BBC did was an abuse," he said, adding that senior executives at the corporation deserved to lose their jobs.

Despite the damages and costs Sir Cliff said he had been left ‘substantially out of pocket’ after spending more than £3m to clear his name.