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Sir Cliff Richard tells High Court seeing TV footage of poli
Fri Apr 13, 2018 04:30

Sir Cliff Richard tells High Court seeing TV footage of police searching his flat was 'like watching burglars'

Sir Cliff Richard arriving at the High Court CREDIT:

Victoria Ward
13 APRIL 2018 • 4:29PM
Sir Cliff Richard has described how he watched the television footage of police searching through his flat feeling like he was being “burgled”.

He told the High Court that he was on holiday with friends in Portugal when he was told police had a warrant to search his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014.

He said he was “a bit shaken” by the thought police were at his apartment and had no idea why they were there. As he had done nothing wrong he went out for lunch with his friends.

He then received a call telling him that a criminal allegation had been made against him dating back to 1985 involving a male who was under 16.

He said this was “absolutely shocking to hear” especially as it was “entirely untrue”. The group later heard from a friend in the UK that the BBC was showing footage of the search at his home on television.

Cliff Richard and Gloria Hunniford arrive at the High Court
Sir Cliff Richard arrives at the High Court with his friend Gloria Hunniford CREDIT: PETER SUMMERS/REUTERS

He said he was “horrified” to hear this. He went to his hotel room and put on the TV news.

“I could see the police going through the drawers in one of the rooms in my apartment,” he said in his witness statement.

“I felt confused, disturbed and very upset. It was like I was watching burglars in my apartment, going through my personal belongings.”

Sir Cliff told the court he had had a knot in his stomach for four years since the events of that day.

The 77-year-old singer is demanding that the BBC pay him aggravated damages, including the advance for an autobiography shelved when they "shattered" his reputation by naming him as being under investigation for an alleged sex offence involving a minor dating back to 1985.

I thought I was going crazy because I often found I was talking to myself
Sir Cliff Richard

Sir Cliff said in his statement: “I remember being conscious at the time that people all around the world, people who knew them, would have been watching too, and being led to believe that I was, or at least might be, a serious criminal.

“It felt as though everything I had worked for during my life - trying to live as honestly and honourably as I could - was being torn apart.

“I felt that the publicity stemming from the BBC’s broadcast had taken away from me what I was, and what I was known as, before: a confident and respected artist, and a good ambassador for this country. I felt forever tainted. I still do.”

Sir Cliff said that for the 22 months following the search, he barely slept at night, going over and over things in his head. “I thought I was going crazy because I often found I was talking to myself.”

At one point he was so tormented he thought he was going to have a heart attack or a stroke. The singer told the court he had been “very disturbed” to see what was being written about him online.

“We are totally fallible. We are fodder,” he said. Sir Cliff raised a laugh when he said he realised that if he had not given police permission to enter his apartment they would have broken the door down “and it’s a very nice door”.

Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard on the first day of the case CREDIT: YUI MOK /PA

Sir Cliff said that “of all the people that might have done this” to him, he “would never have dreamed that it would be the BBC.”

He added: “I have always had a great deal of respect for the BBC. They helped me with my career when I got started and they have helped with it since.

“It is an institution, respected around the world. I suppose it is for this reason that I thought the BBC would absolutely play by the rules.”

He said in his statement that the BBC’s refusal to apologise since had been hurtful and it’s decision to submit its coverage of the police search for a Scoop of the Year award had left him “flabbergasted”.

Sir Cliff said that as a consequence of the BBC broadcast he had felt unable to return to his apartment. “I never went back except to pack up my belongings,” he said in his statement.

“In my mind it had become contaminated. I have been burgled before and this for me was an even worse experience.”

BBC bosses dispute Sir Cliff's claims. The BBC says its coverage of the police raid was accurate and in good faith.

Lawyers representing BBC bosses told Mr Justice Mann that the raid was a "matter of legitimate public interest". They said BBC reporting contributed to public debate.

The trial is due to last 10 days.

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