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My pal Cliff helped me get through sex arrest nightmare; DJ NEIL FOX ON HIS TWO-YEAR BATTLE TO CLEAR NAME.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE by scarlet howes

RADIO star Neil Fox today tells how he turned to Sir Cliff Richard for support as they both battled wrongful allegations of historic sex abuse.

The pair exchanged emails and wished each other well as careerwrecking claims hung over them. Neil, known to a generation of fans as Dr Fox, remains grateful for Cliff 's support as they both went through "a sh***y time".

He also thanks his fellow former Pop Idol judges Nicki Chapman and Pete Waterman for their backing.

But he says he never received a word of support from talent show guru Simon Cowell - also a judge on Pop Idol, forerunner to The X Factor.

Neil, speaking at his home in Fulham, West London, says of Sir Cliff: "We would email each other. I messaged him to wish him the best of luck.

You find "He wished me luck and said he hoped it was all going well.

people "He said he was glad it all worked out. I knew all the s**t he was going through.

what going NEIL FOX BY POP "He was incredibly worried and finding it really hard to work. He suffered really badly."

Cliff last week agreed a settlement with the BBC, which will pay PS2million of his legal fees. He won a privacy case over Beeb coverage of a police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berks, in 2014.

The star faced allegations that he sexually abused four young boys - but he was never arrested, nor charged.

DROPPED Neil, 58, says: "Even though he was cleared and got compensation, what he really wants is those years back."

Of their friendship, he goes on: "People going through, sadly, a sh***y time clearly try to share intelligence for just a bit of support.

"You want to find other people who understand what you're going through so you don't have to explain everything."

Former Capital FM host Neil was cleared in 2015 of all allegations of sexually and indecently abusing young fans and colleagues.

At his trial the DJ had admitted "over-the-top" chat and "horseplay", but insisted there was nothing more sinister or sexual.

Now he is backing a petition launched by Cliff, 78, to change the law so those accused of sex offences are anonymous until charged.

Neil says: "I'm with Cliff. It was a dreadful time in our society. There was a celebrity witch-hunt and I thought 'It's my turn'.

"It's only right you should be given anonymity until you are charged. Immediately you become guilty by association. The police wanted to believe any alleged victim. And people's lives were ruined because from pal Cowell of it. How is that fair?" Neil was dramatically arrested after his breakfast show at Magic FM's London offices in 2014. He says: "I was shocked. You go to work one morning, then you're suddenly locked in a cell and lose your job, in the space of 24 hours.

"I thought, 'My life has just changed today'. I've always been in control of my life and the most frustrating thing was that I lost control." Neil's wife of 20 years, Vicky, 46, only found out about his arrest when seven policeman turned up to search their house. But Neil insists Vicky never doubted his innocence.

"She's been my rock," he says. "She kept me going when I thought I wouldn't be able to. I never worried she would leave me as there was nothing weird for her to find out." And he praises his children, Scarlet, 18, Jack, 17, and Martha, 13, for giving him the strength he needed to cope.

He says: "You have to go on as the kids had to go to school the next day. Real life helps you not get lost in your thoughts.

CRASH "And if I was going through a bad day I would think of my best man Nicko, who died in a boat crash in Cornwall with his daughter. And how his wife lost half a leg. So, you have to put it into perspective."

Neil was worried the case may have a lasting effect on his kids, adding: "My youngest was only eight at the time and Scarlet was 13, which is a difficult age. It's tough.

But the kids have come through amazingly, Vicky and I could not be more proud. Scarlet just passed her A-Levels and is off to uni and Jack did brilliantly in his GCSEs. It's been a busy summer in the Fox family."

" While Cliff supported him, Neil tells of the silence from his old Pop Idol pal Simon Cowell, 59. He says: friends with Simon show. He didn't contact what happened or after.

ays: I was good way before the act me during er.

imon is Simon. d had a proper s 50th birthday. h his life. I don't mazing friends ood with them hs will cross at t think we will "I wasn't surprised. Simon Last time I saw him and chat was at his brother's "He's cracked on with know whether he has amazing to know whether he's good or not. I'm sure our paths some point, but I don't work together again."

rated with ski his " Neil reveals he celebrated being cleared at courta glass of bubbly and a trip - after a call to mum. He explains: "The first thing I did was call her. She was 88, so it was difficult for her. Then we all went on a skiing holiday."

But despite the court win, Neil's career has nosedived and he has not worked in broadcasting since.

Millions of fans had tuned in down the years for his wacky, irreverent, y y, , high-octane radio shows.

He says: "I did that job for 29 years. It defines you defines and suddenly if you can't do that it's hard. It takes away a sense of who you are. Your whole routine is disrupted and you have to create a new one. I'm not missing it at the moment.

"But my wife wants me to get back on air and although I am loving what I am doing now, I also hope I can get as I have a plus, back on the radio at some point, really love it. But I'll always havblack mark against my name pI'm getting older. They aren't begging me back."

Determined not to wallow in the past, Neil recently launched app Beat The Intro, a music game for Alexa. He adds: "That's taken up a lot of my time, so I've been really busy. And I've halfwritten a musical. For the first time I can sort of do anything I want."

He chuckles as he looks back on his career, saying: "One of my favourite times was Pop Idol - great fun. When I met the Queen at a Buckingham Palace drinks party she asked me who was going to win, Gareth Gates or Will Young?been and me "I couldn't believe she knew who I was and she watched. She said 'We do have televisions'."

when I that I able to '." And he recounts wild nights out with Cowell, revealing: "Oh, we had a few. One particular VICKY mental night was after the GQ awards and we partied with Paris Hilton before she was really famous."

But while Britain's Got Talent is riding high on our screens once more - with Cowell again in the hot seat - Neil has harsh words for The X Factor.

He says: "X Factor really feels like it's way past it's sell by date however much money they throw at it. Can't really make s**t smell of roses!" Neil - who is training hard for a sponsored cycle ride in aid of the Cornish Air Ambulance - is upbeat about his own future.

He says: "These things are sent to try you. I've got to come out of this better not bitter. I'm not dwelling. Yes, I don't have as much cash as before and it's been difficult.

"But I'm really enjoying spending time with my family. And would I really want to be uber-famous now? No. It would be weird for the kids."

She has been my rock and has kept me going when I thought that I wasn't able to DJ NEIL on unwavering support from wife vicky a settlemen"You want to find other people who understand what you're going through NEIL FOX on support given by pop superstar sir cliff


staying upbeat Neil and his pooch Bonzo

cliff back from edge Cleared star sued the BBC

kept schtum Fox never heard from pal Cowell
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 8, 2019
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