Cliff Richard’s false sex claims left singer fearing for his life

Sir Cliff Richard is set to appear in Operation Yewtree documentary The Accused: National Treasures on Trial tonight on Channel 4.

Operation Yewtree was an investigation launched in 2010 that focused on the sexual abuse allegations, predominantly the abuse of children, against the late English TV personality Jimmy Savile and other well-known celebrities.

Back in 2014, Sir Cliff's home in Berkshire was raided by police officers as part of the operation that shook the UK.

The national treasure, who has sold more than 250 million records worldwide, was accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy during a religious rally at Sheffield United Football club in 1985.

Sir Cliff was never arrested or charged over the allegations and went on to win £2million from a BBC settlement, after BBC News sent a helicopter to cover cops raiding his home.

In the documentary, the now 81-year-old will tell his version of events alongside Pop Idol's Neil Fox and DJ Paul Gambaccini, all of whom were accused but never charged with sexual offences.

Speaking at the House of Lords in June 2022, Sir Cliff branded the internet as a "disaster area for most people now", claiming that his name will be tarnished "forever" online "as the man accused of the dastardly deed".

He went on to state that the sexual assault allegations and media attention left him fearing that he was "going to die of a heart attack".

He added: "I can't express it strongly enough to know what it's like to be an innocent man and also know that the person that accused you has anonymity in perpetuity.

"I'm past that terrible time but will I ever get over it? The answer is no."

The veteran entertainer previously told Desert Island Discs that he hoped for change following his court win against the BBC.

He said: “I’d like to think that when I won that court case against the BBC, it means that they would have to think really hard if ever they wanted to do something like that again.”

Since the ordeal, Sir Cliff and Mr Gambaccini have campaigned for suspects to remain anonymous unless charged.

Lee McMurray, Channel 4 commissioning editor of factual entertainment, said: "This film offers a unique and fresh take on events that changed us forever, compelling viewers to ask important questions about a watershed moment in British history.

"The hurt and anger felt by three household names caught in the eye of the storm sparked by Yewtree, is weighed against the need for and value of a police operation that, while not perfect, delivered long overdue justice to victims of heinous crimes."

*The Accused: National Treasures on Trial, which is a two-part series, will air its first episode tonight on Channel 4 and All 4 at 9pm.

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