Cliff Richard: 'I was hung out like live bait'
Sir Cliff Richard has blasted the handling of the two-year investigation into allegations he sexually abused a teenage boy after he was cleared on Thursday.
Cliff, 75, has always denied the claims and after he was cleared on Thursday (16.06.16) when the Crown Prosecution Service dropped its case, he called for anonymity for people who are facing allegations but have not been charged.
In an emotional statement, Cliff said: "After almost two years under police investigation I learnt today that they have finally closed their enquiries.
"I have always maintained my innocence, co-operated fully with the investigation, and cannot understand why it has taken so long to get to this point!
"Nevertheless, I am obviously thrilled that the vile accusations and the resulting investigation have finally been brought to a close.
"Ever since the highly-publicised and BBC-filmed raid on my home I have chosen not to speak publicly.
"Even though I was under pressure to 'speak out', other than to state my innocence, which was easy for me to do as I have never molested anyone in my life, I chose to remain silent.
"This was despite the widely-shared sense of injustice resulting from the high-profile fumbling of my case from day one.
"Other than in exceptional cases, people who are facing allegations should never be named publicly until charged.
"I was named before I was even interviewed and for me that was like being hung out like 'live bait'."
Cliff went on to say that "no innocent person should be treated" as he has been and blasted the CPS for their announcement, which did not "expressly state" his innocence.
He said: "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 they forever tarnish the reputations of innocent people.
"There have been numerous occasions in recent years where this has occurred, and I feel very strongly that no innocent person should be treated in this way.
"I know the truth and in some peoples' eyes the CPS' announcement today doesn't go far enough because it doesn't expressly state that I am innocent; which of course I am. There lies the problem.
"My reputation will not be fully vindicated because the CPS' policy is to only say something general about there being 'insufficient' evidence.
"How can there be evidence for something that never took place! This is also a reason why people should never be named publicly until they have been charged unless there are exceptional circumstances."
However, Cliff went on to thank those who have stood by him through his ordeal, saying: "To my fans and members of the public, to the press and media, all of whom continued to show me such encouraging and wonderful support, I would like to say "thank you" it would have been so much harder without you."