Sir Cliff Richard has spoken of his “distress, humiliation and embarrassment” after the BBC filmed a police raid on his home as police probed allegations of historical sex abuse by the singer.
Richard was speaking in Parliament yesterday as part of a campaign to give anonymity to sex crime suspects who have not been charged.
The campaign is backed by broadcaster Paul Gambaccini and Tory MP Nigel Evans who were also accused of sexual offences before having the cases against them dropped.
Richard’s home was raided by South Yorkshire Police in August 2014 as part of a police investigation into allegations he had sexually abused four men between 1958 and 1983. At the time he had not been arrested.
The force tipped off the BBC about the raid allowing the broadcaster to set up cameras and use a helicopter to capture aerial footage of officers inside the 76-year-old’s home.
The BBC apologised to Cliff Richard for his “distress” at the coverage but insisted it has a responsibility to report stories that are “in the public interest”. Its coverage was nominated for scoop of the year at the RTS awards last year.
After the case against Richard was dropped, South Yorkshire Police “apologised wholeheartedly” to the singer for the “additional anxiety” caused by their handling of the media interest.
The singer, who has filed a lawsuit against the BBC and South Yorkshire Police, said in a statement: “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 world-wide 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 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 the damage I have suffered.”
In a further statement, reported in the Daily Mail, he added: “I don’t believe that it can be genuinely or sincerely argued that my standing and good name haven’t been badly damaged as a result of the police’s and BBC’s conduct.
“This is quite apart from the distress, embarrassment and humiliation I have been caused.”
The Daily Mail has previously condemned the investigation into allegations against Richard as a “completely inexcusable…trial by TV”.