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Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 21:54 GMT
Sir Cliff still a bachelor boy

Karon Maskill
Karon Maskill: Just close friends with Sir Cliff


The PR executive who has been romantically linked with chart-topping singer Sir Cliff Richard has said they are "just close friends".

Karon Maskill, 34, who works for PR firm Mark Borkowski, denied rumours of any romance.

Speculation has surrounded the couple since the 59-year-old pop legend was spotted in public with Ms Maskill, with whom he has become increasingly affectionate.

The two were also seen together at the South Bank Show awards in January, when Sir Cliff reportedly insisted she sat next to him at the table.

'Unfounded'

But in a statement on Wednesday, Ms Maskill's company said newspaper reports suggesting their friendship had become more than platonic were "entirely unfounded".

"Press speculation over a `special friendship' between Karon Maskill and Cliff Richard is entirely unfounded," the statement said.

"Karon has forged a friendship with Sir Cliff as a result of her professional input as leader of the team which has publicised Cliff's work during the past year."

Sir Cliff is said to have met Ms Maskill 18 months ago, when she worked as his PR.

The singer has chosen to take a year's break from work and has been seen enjoying shopping trips and meals out with the 34-year-old.

Sir Cliff Richard Sir Cliff: Time off
His decision follows mixed musical success over Christmas, with charity song Millennium Prayer.

Although the song was loved by his fans and held the number one spot for four weeks, it suffered widespread derison in the media.

The song - the Lord's Prayer set to the music of Auld Lang Syne - was eventually knocked off the top spot by boy band Westlife for the millennium.

The famously celibate singer has been romantically linked with four women in the past - Sue Barker, Olivia Newton John, Una Stubbs and Carol Costa.

As a committed Christian Sir Cliff has always maintained he has never married because he puts his career first.

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See also:
27 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Sir Cliff's arts honour
06 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Sir Cliff 'bigger than the Pope'
05 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Sir Cliff tipped for millennium No 1
10 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Michael brands Cliff campaign 'vile'
11 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Sir Cliff backs Christian radio bid

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