Cliff Richard has opened up about the immense impact seeing a live broadcast of a police raid on his home had on his health, admitting he actually collapsed on his kitchen floor at one point – and now he’s afraid to go anywhere near children.
The 77-year-old sued the BBC for invasion of privacy after they broadcast a police raid on his home in 2014, as part of an investigation into historical child sex allegations. He was never arrested or charged, and this week he was finally awarded £210,000 (AU $371,000) in damages by the High Court.
Now, in his first TV interview since winning the case, he has revealed he won’t even take a route he used to take regularly between the courts at Wimbledon over fears he may be accused of being near the ball boys’ dressing room. In fact, he’s even afraid of hugging people’s grandchildren.
In an exclusive chat with ITV News, he also admitted he was barely getting two hours of sleep a night for the first two years due to the huge mental strain it put on him.
“The worst moment was when I collapsed on my kitchen floor,” he told the TV show. “That was when it suddenly hit me that I was in this mess and I couldn’t figure how to answer it because the question was wrong. I didn’t do anything like that. That was the most disastrous.”
"In Wimbledon there is a tunnel…it went right past the ball boys' dressing room. I won’t go there now. I won’t go anywhere near children"
— ITV News (@itvnews) July 18, 2018
While he’s managed to overcome the immediate health battles and stress he faced, it’s had a long-term effect too – as he admitted he is now wary about spending time with children, and even coming into close proximity with them.
“I won’t go anywhere near children. Why? I’ve spent my whole life hugging people’s grandchildren,” he admitted. “But because of this thing now… There’s aspects of my life now even when I’m having photographs taken I try not to make contact.”
According to multiple reports the singer burst into tears when he was told he’d won his case, and the judge also told him he’s entitled to recover further sums.
During the hearing, he told the court the BBC’s coverage of the raid was a “very serious invasion” of his privacy, while senior editors denied it and said it was accurate and in good faith.
Hitting out at the BBC – who always denied any wrongdoing – Cliff has urged senior managers to now “carry the can” and insisted heads must now roll over the huge decision the broadcaster made that day.
"I'd rather ten guilty people get away with it than one innocent person suffer"
Exclusive: After Sir Cliff Richard's privacy win against the BBC, he calls for individuals accused of sex offences to have the right to anonymity unless charged.
— ITV News (@itvnews) July 18, 2018
“It seemed to me there was a great deal of arrogance there in that they took no notice of the police, they obviously didn’t read again the Leveson report, which states clearly that except in exceptional cases no one should be named unless they’re charged,” he added on the news programme.
“And of course our laws are based on Magna Carta and King John said all of us are innocent, he went further, we are innocent until found guilty in a court of law.”
He said he’s now finding it difficult to speak about the case as he’s still in shock from the years of turmoil it brought him, and added: “The break-in to my apartment was three years, 11 months, four days ago and I thought ‘I’m passed all that now, it’s in my past’ but I find I still can’t speak about it too well, I’m controlling myself at the moment but I’m sure when I speak to people about this again I shall be weeping again.
The BBC has now confirmed it will look at appealing the ruling.
The BBC’s Director of News, Fran Unsworth, apologised for the distress caused to the singer in a lengthy statement following the verdict.
“We have thought long and hard about how we covered this story. On reflection there are things we would have done differently, however the judge has ruled that the very naming of Sir Cliff was unlawful. So even had the BBC not used helicopter shots or ran the story with less prominence, the judge would still have found that the story was unlawful; despite ruling that what we broadcast about the search was accurate,” she said.
“This judgment creates new case law and represents a dramatic shift against press freedom and the long-standing ability of journalists to report on police investigations, which in some cases has led to further complainants coming forward.
“This impacts not just the BBC, but every media organisation.
“This isn’t just about reporting on individuals. It means police investigations, and searches of people’s homes, could go unreported and unscrutinised. It will make it harder to scrutinise the conduct of the police and we fear it will undermine the wider principle of the public’s right to know. It will put decision-making in the hands of the police.
“We don’t believe this is compatible with liberty and press freedoms; something that has been at the heart of this country for generations.
“For all of these reasons, there is a significant principle at stake. That is why the BBC is looking at an appeal.”