SIR Cliff Richard has opened up about one of his lowest points during his sex-case hell, saying: â€œI lay on the floor weeping, thinking â€˜how am I going to climb out of this hole?â€™â€
The singer spoke of his ordeal following the CPSâ€™s announcement the pop legend would not be charged over child sex allegations.
The 75-year-old, who faced an agonising two years in limbo, was particularly incredulous how his accusers could make the claims in the first place.
In all, nine men came forward with allegations, but five of the cases did not reach the threshold for consideration by the CPS.
The pop veteran said of his accusers: â€œWhy would anyone hate me so much they would do this to me.â€
However he saved his biggest anger for South Yorkshire Police â€™s bungled investigation.
The singerâ€™s Berkshire home was raided by detectives in August 2014, an operation that was broadcast live on the BBC following an apparent tip-off that the search was taking place.
Sir Cliff was identified without ever being arrested or charged, which he said was like being hung out like â€œlive baitâ€ and tarnished the reputation of the innocent.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings said the operation being made public was a â€œdeep regretâ€ and accepted that a â€œbigger debateâ€ was needed over how to properly protect those being investigated.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Sir Cliff blasted: â€œThe apology from the police is not enough. Itâ€™s never going to get rid of what Iâ€™ve been through.â€
Sir Cliff has now called for a â€œcomplete review of police proceduresâ€, condemning the fact that he was named in public over sexual abuse allegations before being charged.
Calling for change, he added: â€œOther than in exceptional cases, people who are facing allegations should never be named publicly until charged.
â€œI was named before I was even interviewed and for me that was like being hung out like â€˜live baitâ€™.
“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.
â€œThere 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.â€
Sir Cliff has also opened up to long-time friend Gloria Hunniford , who has filmed an interview with him to be broadcast on Wednesday on ITV .
The hour-long interview will then be aired in full during Loose Women which begins at 12.30pm.
Gloria has said how the traumatic two-year ordeal took its toll on him.
â€œHe definitely changed a lot,â€ she said.
â€œMentally, it was horrific for him to be accused like that. Physically, although he was never overweight, he does now look a little underweight now.
â€œI saw him last week. I gave him a hug and he was skin and bones. I think it has taken a big toll on him and the relief will be enormous.â€
Gloria said he was still desperate for the police to officially announce that he is innocent.
â€œHe hasnâ€™t received the word innocent yet – and he should do as he hasnâ€™t done anything and there isnâ€™t any evidence,â€ she added. â€œHe would like that word innocent.
â€œA lot of people are arguing that people involved in these cases should not be named until they are charged.
“You canâ€™t imagine what itâ€™s been like for him. It was the first thing he thought of in the morning and the last thing at night. It was torture.
â€œHe is so relieved right now. His body must be thinking thank goodness – and i couldnâ€™t be more happy for him.â€
The former TV presenter, 76, said Sir Cliff had barely spent any time at his Â£2million Berkshire penthouse after it was raided while he was in Portugal.
She said: â€œThat was awful for him. I donâ€™t think he has been in that house again apart from five minutes to grab some belongings.â€
The pop veteranâ€™s face was etched in pain after the accusation â€“ strongly denied at the time â€“ that he had groped a boy at a religious festival in 1985.
More pictures emerged of him in New York looking equally haunted as the wait to see whether he would be charged or not took its toll.
Sir Cliff said that while he was â€œobviously thrilled that the vile accusations and the resulting investigation have finally been brought to a closeâ€, he slammed the â€œhigh-profile fumbling of my case from day oneâ€.
He added: â€œI know the truth and in some peopleâ€™s eyes the CPSâ€™s announcement today doesnâ€™t go far enough because it doesnâ€™t expressly state that I am innocent; which of course I am.
“There lies the problem. How can there be evidence for something that never took place!â€
His views echo others forced to go through the same ordeal, such as Paul Gambaccini who described the Operation Yewtree investigation against him a â€œwitch-huntâ€ that ate away at the idea of â€œinnocent until proven guiltyâ€.
He has also called for law reform including anonymity for those accused of sex abuse before they have been charged, and backed a 28-day limit on police bail recommended by the Home Affairs Select Committee – which came into force last year.
David Davis MP – who has championed reform of how sexual offences are prosecuted – backed the call for a review of police procedures.
He said: â€œIn light of another high-profile arrest which resulted in no prosecution, it is time for a complete review of police procedures surrounding high-profile sex abuse cases, and the publicity surrounding these cases.
â€œWhilst it is important to protect victims and maximise the chances of a successful prosecution, this must not result in the gratuitous destruction of peopleâ€™s reputation.â€
The call not to bring charges comes months after Scotland Yard was forced to close a controversial inquiry into allegations of a VIP paedophile ring in Westminster.
And it emerged at the weekend how one of Sir Cliffâ€™s accusers was even arrested over a plot to blackmail him.
Despite this, the allegations were still used as part of a police case
The man is said to have contacted Sir Cliffâ€™s aides after seeing the police raid on the starâ€™s home on television and threatened to spread false stories unless he was paid.
He was arrested and questioned by police but then spoke to a second police force, which took his abuse claim seriously.
It was included in a file on Sir Cliff that was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The man investigated for blackmail was given strict bail conditions by police, banning him from contacting Sir Cliff, his relatives and his PR team.
But he became a key witness after three interviews at his home in the Home Counties in which he told detectives from South Yorkshire Police that Sir Cliff abused him. – Daily Mirror