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Sir Cliff in tears telling court he felt 'smeared' by BBC's coverage of raid on home

By Sian Harrison and Brian Farmer

Sir Cliff Richard broke down after telling a High Court judge that BBC coverage of a police raid on his home left him feeling "forever tainted".

The 77-year-old singer told Mr Justice Mann yesterday how seeing coverage of the search at his apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was like "watching burglars" going through his belongings.

He said he felt that his name had been "smeared" all over the world, that his health had suffered, and that he had never lived in the apartment again because it had become "contaminated".

He also said he wanted a public declaration that what the BBC did was "wrong".

Sir Cliff has taken legal action over BBC coverage of the police search which was staged after an historic sex-assault allegation, and he wants damages at the "top end" of the scale.

Sir Cliff denied the allegation and in June 2016 prosecutors said he would face no charges.

He has said the coverage was a "very serious invasion" of his privacy.

The BBC disputes his claims. Bosses say coverage of the search was accurate and in good faith.

Mr Justice Mann began overseeing a trial at the High Court in London on Thursday.

Sir Cliff broke down as he told the court that his name had been smeared all over the world.

"Everywhere I have ever been, I felt my name was smeared," he said. "The police didn't do that, the BBC did."

He said he had been in Portugal at the time of the search and watched BBC coverage at a hotel.

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

He added: "It was shocking and upsetting."

Sir Cliff said the was conscious people around the world might think he was 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," he said.

"I felt forever tainted. I still do."

Sir Cliff said he waited 22 months, between August 2014 and June 2016, before finding out that prosecutors were not "going to be taking further action".

He said his health suffered, adding: "During the day there was an ever-present knot in my stomach. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, going over things in my head again and again.

"At one point, feeling particularly sleep deprived and tormented, I actually thought I was going to have a heart attack or stroke.

"I fear that to some extent my standing and my self-esteem have been damaged forever," he added.

The singer said a public declaration of wrongdoing by the BBC would give him some solace and go some way to ensuring "that what happened to me never happens to anyone else again".

Lawyers have told Mr Justice Mann how in late 2013, a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police, saying he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff during an event featuring evangelist Billy Graham at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane football stadium, when a child in 1985.

Metropolitan Police officers passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014.

Sir Cliff denied the allegation and prosecutors said he would face no charges.

A BBC spokesman has said the BBC reported Sir Cliff's "full denial of the allegations at every stage".

The High Court trial is due to last 10 days.

Belfast Telegraph

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