13/04/2018 17:20 BST

Sir Cliff Richard Breaks Down As He Gives Evidence In BBC Court Battle

'I felt my name was smeared. The police didn’t do that, the BBC did.'

Sir Cliff Richard broke down in court today (13 April) as he told of how his name had been “smeared” all over the world following BBC coverage of a police raid on his home.

The singer choked up as he listed a number of countries where he claims his reputation was damaged, while giving evidence in the High Court case against the broadcaster. 

The 77-year-old singer has taken legal action over BBC coverage of the police search at his partment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014, which took place after a sex assault allegation.

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Sir Cliff Richard arrives at the Rolls Building in London

An emotional Sir Cliff told the court his reputation had been affected in countries including Holland, Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore, stating: “Everywhere I have ever been, I felt my name was smeared. The police didn’t do that, the BBC did.”  

He clasped his hands to his face before adding that the journalists involved “felt they were above the law” and “above the Leveson report”.

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

However, Sir Cliff said the raid was a “very serious invasion” of privacy, and claimed his health had suffered as a result. 

“It was shocking and upsetting,” he said in his witness statement. “My health suffered, both mentally and physically.

“At one point … I actually thought I was going to have a heart attack or stroke.”

Sir Cliff said he was conscious that 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.”

He also admitted he has felt unable to return to his Sunningdale apartment, feeling it had been “contaminated” by the raid, not even returning to pack up his belongings. 

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An artist's impression of Sir Cliff, who gave evidence in court on Friday (13 April)

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

Telling of how he “never felt right at all” during that period, he said: “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.”

During cross-examination by BBC lawyers, Sir Cliff told the court he has spent £3.4 million to date on the case.

He said it was “really painful” for him to read a statement from the Corporation criticising him for spending too much money on lawyers.

A BBC spokesman has said that the BBC had reported Sir Cliff’s “full denial of the allegations at every stage”.

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 in June 2016 prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.