Sir Cliff Richard candidly discusses mental toll of child sexual assault allegations in explosive Operation Yewtree documentary

Sir Cliff was falsely accused in Operation Yewtree (Picture: Getty Images)

Sir will headline a documentary about Operation Yewtree in which he will open up about the impact of being falsely accused of child sexual assault. 

The Summer Holiday singer was targeted by the three-year investigation, which was set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile Scan**l in 2012.

Officers searched the 81-year-old’s as part of the operation after receiving an allegation of a historial sex offence involving a boy under 16 dating back to the 1980s in South Yorkshire.

The veteran performer denied the claims, was never arrested, faced no charges and was later awarded compensation from the South Yorkshire Police and the BBC for coverage of the case. 

Titled The Accused: National Treasures On Trial, the upcoming Channel 4 doc will focus on the toll the process had on his career and reputation, as well as reflect on Operation Yewtree’s lasting legacy on the UK’s values, attitudes and culture.

Sir Cliff he feared he’d ‘die of heart attack’ during that time in his life after sometimes waking up with his pulse racing, and will ‘forever’ be on the dark web as ‘the man accused of the dastardly deed’. 

Speaking in the House of Lords in June, 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.

(L-R) Paul Gambaccini, Sir Cliff and Neil Fox feature in The Accused: National Treasures On Trial (Picture: PA)

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

In addition to the Move It hitmaker, the programme will follow radio DJs Paul Gambaccini and Neil Fox, who were also falsely accused of historial sex offences.

Paul was arrested in October 2013 over a claim that he sexually assaulted two teenage boys as part of Operation Yewtree.

Sir Cliff will open up in the doc (Picture: Getty Images)

The 73-year-old, a regular fixture on the airwaves for decades, spent a year on bail before the case was dropped.

Meanwhile, former Capital FM presenter Neil was accused of eight counts of indecent assault and two of sexual assault dating back to the late 1980s, involving young fans and colleagues.

Sir Cliff has launched a pressure group with Paul (Picture: RUSHEN / BACKGRID)

The 61-year-old was cleared of all 10 counts at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in December 2015.

Since being cleared, Sir Cliff and Paul  have launched a campaign calling for suspects to have their anonymity protected by law unless they are charged.

Jessie Versluys, executive producer of the doc’s producer Curious Films, said: ‘The Accused: National Treasures On Trial explores what it’s like to find yourself at the heart of a police investigation into alleged historic sex crimes.

‘Using firsthand testimonies, it looks at the role of the media during this period, and the argument around whether celebrities should be named in the press before any charge has been made.

‘At the same time it asks searching questions about Yewtree and assesses its role in changing Britain’s attitudes towards sex, morality, consent, gender relations and what we expect from public figures.’

The Accused: National Treasures On Trial will air on Channel 4.


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