Cliff Richard says he is tainted by abuse allegations
Singer Sir Cliff Richard has told MPs and peers he fears he will be "forever tainted" after being wrongly accused of sex offences.
The performer, who is suing the BBC and South Yorkshire Police after a raid on his home was televised live, spoke at a private meeting yesterday as part of a campaign to guarantee anonymity for suspects accused of sex crimes.
He told an audience including Lord Lloyd-Webber: "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' worldwide, 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 fear 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 all the damage I have suffered. It would have been so much better never to have been in this position at all."
The 75-year-old told the meeting that he was grateful that his late sister Donna had lived long enough to hear that he had been cleared.
Sir Cliff was the subject of a long-running South Yorkshire Police investigation, which centred on accusations dating between 1958 and 1983 made by four men.
He was never arrested, and earlier this year prosecutors announced that no charges were to be brought as a result of the inquiry.
Last month a review confirmed that the decision was correct.