British singer SIR Cliff Richard is amazed by the media frenzy surrounding his decision to allow Prime Minister Tony Blair to stay at his holiday home in the Caribbean this summer (05), because he considers him to be a friend.

There was outcry in conservative sections of the British press over whether Blair was using taxpayers' money to fund the holiday - but Richard insists he never charges his friends to stay at his Barbados home.

Speaking on tonight's (14DEC05) Sky Report on British TV channel Sky News, Richard says, "I'm only concerned because I know what it's like to go through having the press throw things like this at you. I'm sorry, I never charge any of my friends when they come.

"I would never dream of charging rent for my friends. All I know actually is that they actually donate money to charity instead of paying me rent. But I don't see why they should have to do that either.

"If I didn't offer it to them and they went somewhere else the taxpayer would have to pay for it. I don't understand the fuss really - it's like you're telling me I can't ask my friends to use my house unless I charge them rent. I don't care whether he's the Prime Minister."