ITV programmes across the daytime schedules have aired interviews with singer Sir Cliff Richard following the CPS announcment earlier this week the Wired For Sound performer wouldn’t be charged with any historic sex offenses due to insufficient evidence.
On Good Morning Britain the 75-year-old showbiz legend broke his two year silence on the accusations. Talking to Susanna Reid Sir Cliff said he still felt ‘tarnished’ from the whole incident and said his trust in people had changed ‘to a certain extent’.
“I am very cagey now when I am having pictures taken with people. And I don’t like that feeling, because I’ve always had photographs taken with grandparents and their grandchildren. I have had my arms around their grandchildren, that’s my life, I’m a family entertainer and that’s what I have done. But that’s one thing I am going to have to try and get rid of.” – Cliff Richard
He also spoke of the coverage which aired live on the BBC News Channel of a raid at his UK home by South Yorkshire Police.
“There must have been illegal collusion, I have never known, I don’t think investigations take place with lighting and cameras and special angles for the helicopter. It just seemed ridiculous so I feel have every right to sue because if nothing else, definitely for gross invasion of my privacy.” – Cliff Richard
On This Morning, a feature with Gloria Hunniford saw Cliff turn to how the ordeal had effected him.
“I could hardly walk, I had a hot bath and I still couldn’t walk. It was just impossible. So I realised really early on that something was happening to me. I’ve had during the course of this year, shingles, I got hit by shingles. I’ve got a photo – I haven’t got it here of course – but I took a selfie. I got it on my face and my head, and I got these black scabs all over my forehead and just over my eye and down here [cheek]… then of course the lack of sleep doesn’t help… So there’s been a number of indications that my body has had to put up with something that I’m not used to.” – Cliff Richard
This Morning’s Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby spoke to Gloria about the situation.
“Obviously the relief when he heard the news was just extraordinary… He would say in the interview that he wept at the time of just relief. But when you’ve been through everything that he explains, it clearly makes a big mark on you mentally and physically and I think now that the initial relief, now a certain amount of anger is setting in. He says he tries not to be angry but here he is having been cleared and no charges have been made, and the anger is there: ‘what was all of this for?’. He’s tainted for life over this accusation, or accusations, and naturally the anger sets in.” – Gloria Hunniford
Finally an hour long special of Loose Women hosted by Gloria Hunniford saw Cliff discuss how the accused are always named, which he feels needs to change.
“It’s a frightening fact and if we as a group of us: Jimmy Tarbuck, Jim Davidson, Paul Gambaccini, myself – if we can get a consortium of us together to say ‘Look just try and make it fair.’ You can’t. I do not like being collateral damage. That’s what I’ve been. That’s what Paul was. That was Jim Davidson, that was Jimmy Tarbuck. You can’t just haul a net of people in and then just find one guilty person, and the other 9 have had their lives damaged and ruined – and sometimes forever maybe.” – Cliff Richard
“If the police have got enough to charge you, that’s the time you should be naming. Then if there’s other people who want to come forward they will come forward. But I’ve spent these months, these two years almost, with my name plastered everywhere.” – Cliff Richard
With a further thought:
“Glo, it would almost be worthwhile gone through this. It would almost be worthwhile [if the law was changed for anonymity until charged], I say almost because I don’t think I’m ever going to forget this. I don’t think it’s going to go away that easily. And I’m 76 this year, I don’t know how long I’ve got to live, and what these people have done to me… if they wanted to damage me, if my accuser wanted to damage me, you did it.” – Cliff Richard
In a statement released by the BBC ahead of today’s ITV broadcasts the corporation said:
The BBC is very sorry that Sir Cliff Richard, who has worked as a musician and performer for so many years with the organisation, has suffered distress.
The BBC’s responsibility is to report fully stories that are in the public interest. Police investigations into prominent figures in public life are, of course, squarely in the public interest, which is why they have been reported by all news organisations in this country.
Once the South Yorkshire Police had confirmed the investigation and Sir Cliff Richard’s identity and informed the BBC of the timing and details of the search of his property, it would neither have been editorially responsible nor in the public interest to choose not to report fully the investigation into Sir Cliff Richard because of his public profile.
The BBC, at every stage, reported Sir Cliff’s full denial of the allegations.
The BBC, therefore, stands by the decision to report the investigation undertaken by the South Yorkshire Police and the search of his property.
Sir Cliff has made the argument that the identity of people under investigation into historic allegations should not be made public until they are charged. This view raises significant questions about the scrutiny of the Police and public confidence that allegations are investigated. That said, we respect the fact that he is making an important statement in the debate over balancing privacy rights with the public interest. Ultimately, though, deciding whether people should remain anonymous while the subject of a Police investigation is a matter for Parliament.
The Home Affairs Select Committee reviewed the editorial decisions made by the BBC and concluded, “we see nothing wrong in their decision to run the story”.
South Yorkshire Police, in a statement to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, added:
“The force apologises wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused by our initial handling of the media interest in this case and has implemented the learning from this and a subsequent review.
Non-recent allegations are, by their very nature, complex and difficult matters to investigate and can take a considerable amount of time. We appreciate that waiting for a conclusion will undoubtedly have caused additional distress for all those involved. However it is in the interests of justice to investigate such matters thoroughly.”