LONDON • The case was dropped in 2016, but British singer Cliff Richard says the pain of being accused as a child molester has never gone away.
He has become so paranoid that he now makes sure he does not take photographs with young folk, lest others still think he is a paedophile, he reveals in an ITV documentary called Sir Cliff Richard, 60 Years In Public And Private.
"They have given me something I can never ever be free of. Ever!" the 78-year-old lamented.
He was accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy at a 1985 rally in Sheffield, England, held by American evangelist Billy Graham.
Richard sang at the event.
But the alleged victim filed a police complaint only many years later, leading to a televised raid on Richard's home in Berkshire, England, in 2014.
The singer, who was then in Portugal for a vacation, said: "I will never ever forget what I saw on television and never forget what it's all about."
He is still bitter over the incident over which he was never arrested or charged.
"I do not have any hint of that kind of activity in my background - none at all.
"If I was a paedophile, there's no way I could hide it for 60 years. It's impossible," The Telegraph cited him as saying.
The adverse publicity affected his health. "I thought I was going to die, supposing I had a heart attack.
"I had shingles and I didn't sleep more than an average of two hours a night."
He said he had tried to keep sane by keeping the right company, living with Mr John McElynn, a close pal of 18 years.
"I enjoyed meeting John because he was a priest and there's a spiritual connection and I can talk to him about anything.
"You need someone who's solid."
And music continues to give Richard a lift, with his new album Rise Up debuting at No. 4 on the British chart last week.
This album of new material - his first in 14 years - marks his 45th Top 10 album.