Sir Cliff Richard has spoken to Good Morning Britain about the moment he learned that historical abuse charges against him were being dropped, and the devastating impact that the 22-month inquiry has had on his life. In a candid interview, the 75-year-old said that he still felt "tarnished" from the accusations and admitted that his trust in people had changed.
"I'm very cagey now when I am having pictures taken with people," Sir Cliff told Susanna Reid. "And I don't like that feeling, because I've always had photographs taken with grandparents and their grandchildren, that's my life, I'm a family entertainer and that's what I have done. But that's one thing I am going to have to try and get rid of."
Sir Cliff Richard said he still feels 'tarnished' by the allegations
The star spoke about how he felt when he was told the Crown Prosecution Service had "insufficient evidence" to charge him. "To get the news a couple of days ago telling me that it was good news from the CPS was just fantastic. It's very difficult for me to explain to people what it’s been feeling like, what it felt like for me, to be an innocent, but having these vile accusations thrown at me."
Asked about the use of the term 'insufficient evidence', Sir Cliff added: "The CPS, I mean, it's just what they do...there are certain terminologies that they have to use, and in this case they never say there is no evidence, they just say insufficient evidence, nothing on which we can prosecute. And so in a way I still feel tarnished because insufficient suggests that maybe there's something there and I know there wasn't."
The 75-year-old is one of Britain's best-loved entertainers
The singer was then asked whether the law should be changed to protect the identity of those accused of sexual offences. "The Leveson report, he wrote that there as a guideline for how the police should behave and it's very simple, it says, 'Except in exceptional circumstances, people should never be named unless they are charged'," he commented.
"In the case of people like myself or anybody that is not charged with, this is sexual molestation, the name should never be out there, unless you have been charged, and here I am 22 months and a week later and no charge. I don't like the idea of being collateral damage, and that's what I've been for 22 months."
Sir Cliff also addressed the police investigation and the BBC's coverage of the story, which had included a live broadcast of the raid on his Berkshire home. "There must have been illegal collusion," he said. "I don't think investigations take place with lighting and cameras and special angles for the helicopter. I just seemed ridiculous so I feel I have every right to sure, because if nothing else, definitely for gross invasion of my privacy."