Sir Cliff backs law change to give sex offence accused anonymity | UK News

Sir Cliff Richard is to help launch a petition to change the law so that those accused of sexual offences remain anonymous.

It comes after a false allegation against him led to a police raid on his home being broadcast by the BBC.

The pop star was publicly named when the footage – taken from a TV helicopter over his Berkshire apartment – went on air in the summer of 2014, but no arrests were ever made in relation to the accusation against him.

Sir Cliff Richard leaves High Court after winning his case against the BBC

Sir Cliff too ’emotional’ for words

He was never charged, and last year won £210,000 in damages from a court battle with the BBC after a judge ruled the corporation had violated his privacy rights in a “serious and sensationalist way”.

Sir Cliff has now joined DJ Paul Gambaccini – who was also wrongly accused of committing historical sex offences – in backing a campaign for such people to be kept anonymous until they are charged.

Pressure group Fair (Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform) is behind the petition, which has amassed more than 2,000 signatures ahead of its official launch in Westminster.

It declares that anonymity is needed to “to protect the reputations of all innocent suspects, whether well-known or not, from the lasting stigma of a false sexual allegation”.

Sir Cliff said the accusations against him and their subsequent coverage in the media was “the worst thing that has happened to me in my entire life” – and that the stigma was “almost impossible to eradicate”.

In a statement on the Fair website, he added: “Had this proposed change in the law been enacted when the police decided to raid my apartment following the allegations of a fantasist, the BBC would not have been able to film this event, name me, (even though the South Yorkshire Police had decided not to) and so plunge my life and those close to me into fear and misery.”

US born broadcaster Paul Gambaccini listens as former British Conservative MP Harvey Proctor addresses a press conference in central London
Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini

Gloria Hunniford has been speaking with Cliff Richard since his court victory over the BBC

Cliff Richard ‘did not attack’ press freedom

Broadcaster Gambaccini, 70, was arrested in October 2013 over a claim he sexually assaulted two teenage boys, but the case was dropped after the radio presenter spent a year on bail.

His arrest was made as part of Operation Yewtree, which was set up in 2012 in the wake of revelations about the serial paedophile Jimmy Savile.

Other backers include former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, who like Sir Cliff had his home raided and was publicly named after being accused of being a child murderer and rapist.

The 72-year-old spent a year facing the allegations, brought about by a doomed Metropolitan Police sex abuse probe dubbed Operation Midland, before he was finally cleared.

Fair founder and secretary Daniel Janner QC, son of the late Labour peer Lord Janner, who himself has been accused of historical sex offences, has welcomed the support the petition has received.

It will get a government response if it tops 10,000 signatures and will be considered for a debate in parliament if it reaches 100,000.

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