Sue Barker slams Sir Cliff Richard

Sue Barker slams Sir Cliff Richard credit:Bang Showbiz
Sue Barker slams Sir Cliff Richard credit:Bang Showbiz

Sue Barker has slammed Sir Cliff Richard for still talking about their brief relationship, 40 years after they split up.

The 66-year-old tennis player admitted she was shocked when she woke up the day after her wedding to Lance Tankard in 1988, to see an interview with Cliff, 81, talking about why he wouldn't marry her and she begged him to have some "respect" for her marriage.

Writing in the Daily Mail, she said: "Over the years, we stopped seeing each other much, yet remained friends. The only thing we fell out over was the fact that he kept harping on about me in interviews — ‘I didn’t love her enough to propose,’ and so forth.

"This went on and on. It really upset me. In fact, Greg Norman had been much more important in my life than this brief time with Cliff. Yet it’s this relationship that is still hanging around my neck. It’s the one that just won’t go away.

"I was desperate for Cliff to meet someone else and take the focus off me. One day, the late BBC presenter Jill Dando, who was a sort of mentor in the early days of my broadcasting career, asked if I’d mind if she tried to make a go of it with Cliff. I couldn’t have been happier to give her my blessing. That obviously didn’t come to anything either.

"Six years later, I married my husband Lance. We’ve now been together for 34 years and he remains my best friend, my rock, and makes me laugh every day.

"The day after our wedding, we woke up to the headline: ‘Why I Couldn’t Marry Sue — by Cliff.’ I said to Lance: ‘Bad luck, mate, you’ve just done it!’

"I begged Cliff to have some respect for my marriage and to stop mentioning me. It would have been so easy for him to say to any inquiring journalist: ‘Sue is happily married to Lance now, let’s leave it.’

"20 years on, I’d still be reading comments from him such as, ‘I didn’t love her quite enough to marry her,’ and I’d think: ‘He can’t be talking about me, surely? It never got to that level.’"

Sue also admitted she finds it "silly" that Cliff is still talking about their brief relationship and said she never would have married him.

She said: "If someone had told me that my relationship with Cliff would last a few months but I’d still be hearing about it 40 years later, I wouldn’t have gone near him. Frankly, it looks silly now that he’s still talking about a relationship that was never really more than a friendship.

"But the subject came up yet again last year on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. Piers asked Cliff outright: ‘Did you love Sue?’ And Cliff said: ‘I loved being with her, but it wasn’t something that was going to lead to our marriage.’

"No, it wasn’t!

"I never spoke about our relationship. But he continued to paint a picture of me waiting at the altar for him to say ‘yes’. Yet this relationship didn’t enter a universe where I was considering marriage to him."