Gloria defends Cliff after abuse claims

Portadown's Gloria Hunniford (right) pictured with Cliff Richard.
Portadown's Gloria Hunniford (right) pictured with Cliff Richard.

Portadown-born Gloria Hunniford has solidly backed her fellow septuagenarian Cliff Richard as he denies the allegations that he abused a schoolboy in the 1980s.

As the row gathers steam that the South Yorkshire police searched the pop star’s Bedfordshire home while he was on holiday – and the BBC filmed the entire process after a tip-off – Gloria was among the stars who defended him.

Gloria (74) told the Portadown Times, “I have known Cliff for 45 years and I would trust him with my life. In all the time I have known him, he has never put a foot wrong, nor has he said a bad word about anyone.”

Her fellow veteran broadcaster Michael Parkinson has spoken of a witch hunt against the 73-year-old Peter Pan of Pop who strenuously denies the allegations that he abused a boy during a Billy Graham evangelical crusade in Sheffield in the 1980s.

And the plot deepened as a row erupted over the actions of the South Yorkshire police who carried out the search of Cliff’s penthouse, in the glare of publicity of a BBC reporter and camera team on the ground and a helicopter above.

Gloria refused to enlarge on her measured response, but she has been a personal friend of Cliff since she permanently moved to England in the 1980s after her triumphant stand-in stint on the Jimmy Young Show (Radio 2) that shot her career into orbit.

As a television presenter and celebrity, Gloria has appeared on numerous programmes including Gloria Live, Wogan, Holiday, Songs of Praise, Kilroy and Sunday, Sunday and Open House with Gloria Hunniford.

She and Cliff share a great love for tennis – they often played together – and Gloria badly damaged her shoulder in 1991 when she crashed into the net while going for a shot. She suffered 15 breaks of the socket and humerus which took four years and several operations to fix. She learned the game at Portadown Public Park during her youth.

She and Cliff have shared the limelight on many occasions and she numbers him among her best friends.