Cliff lent Blair villa as a 'good deed'

Cliff Richard reveals why he lent Tony Blair his Barbados villa
Cliff Richard reveals why he lent Tony Blair his Barbados villa

Cliff Richard has revealed how he first offered to lend Tony Blair his Barbados mansion in 2003 after seeing him looking "dwindled and haggard" during the Iraq war.

The singer has lent the prime minister and his family the £3 million villa for the past three years, and today reveals that he first made the offer in an attempt to "do a good deed for someone doing a terrible job".

But in an interview with the Guardian's wine writer, Victoria Moore, Sir Cliff rejects outright any suggestion that he has been lobbying Mr Blair to change the copyright laws that would allow him to profit from his music for another 25 years.

The 65-year-old has been campaigning for the past three years to extend the time musicians can claim royalties from their music from 50 to 75 years. He is due to begin losing the rights over his songs from 2008.

In a report last month, the Sunday Times claimed Mr Blair had singled out Sir Cliff during a discussion with Labour's national executive committee (NEC) last year.

He was reported to have "raised concerns" about the situation "whereby Cliff Richard and the Rolling Stones only receive 50 years' protection compared with 70 years in the rest of Europe", according to one member's detailed written record.

However, Sir Cliff hit back today, saying: "How dare people suggest I asked him to help me, or spoke to anyone else.

"My very raison d'etre is not to do anything like that. I've always been careful not to talk to Tony about politics, because that would spoil things.

"He must have great difficulty, in the same way people like myself do, in finding friends who want you for yourself. So I wanted Cherie and Tony to think: 'They're friends of ours, they never ask us for anything.'"

Asked how he first came to know the Blairs, Sir Cliff said that Cherie had gone to one of his concerts and met him afterwards. He noted: "Our relationship hasn't bloomed into a close friendship yet. I wouldn't think of calling Tony up."

The musician added: "I first lent them my house in Barbados because I saw Tony on the television during the war and he seemed dwindled and haggard and I thought, well, whatever gave him the motivation to take that decision [to go to war], he must have felt he had to do it.

"The idea was to do a good deed for someone doing a terrible job."


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