Entertainment & Arts

Sir Cliff Richard 'tarnished' by sex abuse allegations

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Media captionSir Cliff Richard: "I don't like the idea of being collateral damage - and that's what I've been for 22 months"

Sir Cliff Richard has said he feels "tarnished" by allegations of historical sexual abuse, after being told he will not face charges.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Thursday there was "insufficient evidence to prosecute" the 75-year-old singer.

Sir Cliff told ITV's Good Morning Britain he disliked the terminology.

"Insufficient suggests that maybe there's something there and I know there wasn't," he said.

"There are certain terminologies [the CPS] have to use, and in this case, they never say there is no evidence, they just say insufficient evidence."

The singer said he felt like "collateral damage" resulting from the wave of police investigations into high-profile sex abuse allegations sparked by the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Sir Cliff said he believed suspects in sexual abuse cases should not be publicly named unless they are formally charged and questioned if accusers should have anonymity for life.

"I can understand protecting children, but my accusers are all men, grown up men. I don't see why they should be protected," he said.

'Very cagey'

When the allegations first came to light in 2014, a police raid on the singer's home was shown during the BBC's initial reporting of the story.

Sir Cliff said he believed the corporation knew about the raid in advance as a result of contact with South Yorkshire Police at the time.

He said there "must have been illegal collusion" between the BBC and police and he believed he had a "every right to sue... definitely for gross invasion of my privacy".

An independent investigation concluded in 2015 that police should not have released "highly confidential" information to the BBC about a planned search of the singer's home.

The BBC and South Yorkshire Police have both apologised to Sir Cliff.

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Image caption Sir Cliff said he has spent around £1m on legal fees

The singer also said the investigation had made him rethink his attitude to fans.

"I am very cagey now when I am having pictures taken with people," he said.

"I don't like that feeling, because I've always had photographs taken with grandparents and 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."

'Costly' process

Speaking to Gloria Hunniford in a second interview broadcast by ITV on Wednesday, Sir Cliff said it had been a "costly" 22 months.

When pressed further as to how much he had spent on legal fees, the singer replied: "Over a million pounds."

But he added: "I can afford to do that. If you were a plumber or teacher or doctor and somebody makes a false accusation, I don't think they would have the ability to do that."

Sir Cliff also spoke about the toll the process has taken on his health.

"I've had in the course of this year shingles, I got hit by shingles," he said. "I got it on my face and my head."

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Image caption The CPS said there was "insufficient evidence to prosecute" Sir Cliff

The entertainer also told Hunniford he "probably will have to" sue the BBC.

"I was first against the idea of suing people who are institutions of our country... I have listened to the BBC everywhere in the world wherever I go, it's a great institution," he said.

"It's the men at the top that should be sacked."

An updated statement from the BBC, released on Wednesday morning, responded to Sir Cliff's suggestion that sexual abuse suspects should not be publicly named unless charged.

"Deciding whether people should remain anonymous while the subject of a Police investigation is a matter for Parliament," it said.

The BBC repeated its apology to Sir Cliff but also defended the initial decision to cover the story.

"Police investigations into prominent figures in public life are squarely in the public interest," the statement said.

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