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I'd be furious if I was in Cliff Richard's shoes, says Gloria Hunniford as singer abuse charges axed

By Allan Preston

TV presenter Gloria Hunniford has told of her relief after historical sexual abuse charges against her close friend Cliff Richard were dropped.

In an interview on Good Morning Britain, the Northern Ireland-born broadcaster said the two-year investigation had been a horrendous ordeal for the popular musician.

"I think it's been a huge roller coaster," she added. "It's the last thing he thinks of at night and the first thing in the morning.

"You'll never get it out of your head because when you've been accused of something that you haven't done - even if it's a simple thing - it's so frustrating.

"Something of this magnitude is just so hard to deal with when the frustration is there for nearly two years. I know that I would be angry that it's taken so long to deal with it."

Also showing his support for Sir Cliff was former Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn, who tweeted: "We all knew he'd done nothing wrong, great to hear Cliff Richard can now get on with his life after what has been a terrible time for him."

The tributes came after South Yorkshire Police told Sir Cliff (75) he would face no further actions over allegations of abuse said to have taken place decades ago.

Two years ago, BBC helicopter cameras filmed a police raid on the singer's home while he was on holiday.

The police's deal with the BBC landed the then South Yorkshire Chief Constable, David Crompton, before MPs to be grilled over the decision, with his force accused of acting with "sheer incompetence" over the way the matter was dealt with.

A scathing independent report later criticised the agreement between police and the BBC, and said it "certainly interfered with his (Sir Cliff's) privacy and may well have caused unnecessary distress''.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had "carefully reviewed" the case and concluded there was "insufficient evidence to prosecute".

Since the start of the investigation, Sir Cliff has declined to speak publicly on the matter, but yesterday he broke his silence.

"After almost two years under police investigation, I learnt today that they have finally closed their enquiries," he said in a statement.

"I have always maintained my innocence, cooperated fully with the investigation and cannot understand why it has taken so long to get to this point.

"Nevertheless, I am obviously thrilled that these vile accusations and the resulting investigation have finally been brought to a close. I was named before I was even interviewed and for me that was like being hung out like live bait.

"It is obvious that such strategies simply increase the risk of attracting spurious claims which not only tie up police resources and waste public funds, but forever tarnish the reputations of innocent people."

Sir Cliff argued that the police announcement did not go far enough and that he should be expressly recognised as innocent.

In a statement, South Yorkshire Police said: "In May this year, South Yorkshire Police presented the final investigation files to the CPS relating to four allegations of non-recent sexual abuse involving a 75-year-old man.

"After careful consideration the CPS has concluded that no further action should be taken due to there being insufficient evidence to prosecute.

"A further five allegations considered also did not meet the threshold for referral to CPS."

by allan preston

Belfast Telegraph

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