The media are already feeling sorry for themselves, but Sir Cliff Richard’s treatment was an outrage, writes Jim Duffy.
“Congratulations and celebrations ...” Yes, Sir Cliff Richard has won his day in court. And I for one am truly delighted for him.
Many of you of a certain vintage may remember 1970s Saturday night TV. Dr Who with John Pertwee. Probably the best Dr Who of all time it could be argued. I just couldn’t get into that David Tennant guy at all. Maybe just my age. A bit like the saying, “you know when you are getting old when the police look so much younger”. Well, it feels the same with Dr Who, I guess.
Then on the same TV card, there was Sir Cliff. Although he was just Cliff then. My mum would get the wee “Cliff” jacket she had made for me. Essentially it was just a waistcoat, but when I put it on I was the bee’s knees. We would watch and sing with Cliff. He was just terrific.
That memory of this very gorgeous and handsome man has remained with me. Schoolboy looks and a bucket full of charisma and talent. He was the entertainer of our time. And a very decent role model to boot.
One never saw Sir Cliff falling out a nightclub inebriated beyond recognition as he tumbled onto the pavement. No, Sir Cliff was not a party animal. One never saw him attack photographers, despite much intrusion over the years. No Justin Bieber moments for Sir Cliff. One never saw him fighting in a kebab shop at 2am because some guy had made a derogatory comment about his partner. One never saw him crash his car into a corner shop so full of hashish that his eyes were popping out his head. No, Sir Cliff had way too much class.
Living between Surrey and Portugal, he kept himself to himself. He would turn up at Wimbledon each year in the Royal Box looking dapper and chipper. Heck, he even entertained us all one year when rain called off play and we needed cheering up.
He is a kind man and very generous with charity, not needing his face plastered all over the papers when he makes a donation. Many of us could learn from that ... He did not get political and back one party over the next. probably knowing that they are all just as bad as each other. And is his later years, he decided to grow his own wine and dim down his appearances in public.
Until, he was abused and hung out to dry by the BBC and the South Yorkshire Police.
Imagine if you will as you read his newspaper, getting a phone call and texts from concerned neighbours, family, pals or colleagues that your house was being raided right this very moment and it was being plastered all over the BBC.
A helicopter was flying over your property, hovering to cause great effect. The crew inside the chopper were filming the raid on your house and beaming it live throughout the world.
Now think a little harder ... the headlines under the TV footage state that the raid is in relation to historical child sex abuse allegations. Imagine how you would feel. What would be going through your brain? Despair. Confusion. Hopelessness.
Who would you call first? How do you protest your innocence? Is this a dream or a nightmare? Now, you understand a little of how Sir Cliff felt in that moment on that day.
But, it doesn’t stop there. Remember, when big corporations and organisations decide you are the centre of their attention, they are relentless.
How did Sir Cliff feel in the next hours and days? Sure, he could call some pretty fancy lawyers in London to head off even more intrusion. But, it was too late. In my mind at that time, it seemed as if my Saturday TV hero was now involved in some way, shape or form with child abuse. And I am just an army of one.
Add to this army the millions of others in the UK and beyond who now felt sad and confused. Surely not Sir Cliff. Surely not our clean and pure icon? He had spent decades and a lifetime leading a decent life, only to have it almost killed off that day as we all had doubts in our minds and questions to ask.
But now it’s “congratulations and celebrations” as Sir Cliff has been fully exonerated and compensated for all the turmoil and angst he had to endure. My Saturday TV hero is feeling a wee bit better, albeit, he will never be the same again now.
At 77, he still looks great on the exterior. But, inside part of him will have died. And that is sad.
The media are already feeling sorry for themselves. Something about the freedom of the press. And many arguments will spout forth now as media lawyers work out the ramifications of the judge’s decision. The BBC may appeal. That says it all for me.
The police have done the right thing coughing up early and sizeable compensation and again apologising. Well done to the Chief Constable at South Yorkshire Police. But, alas, I am still feeling that not enough justice has been done. But, maybe an eye for an eye is too biblical in the 21st century.
We just need to be careful to safeguard the rights and privacy of citizens. Certainly, investigate and research allegations made. But, those who make them should be interrogated also to ensure that their veracity and sentiment is wholesome and true.
You and I as ordinary folks would never want to go through what Sir Cliff went through so publicly. I just hope now he feels a bit better and knows that my memory of him as a decent human being is very much still in tact.