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March 11, 2019

Sir Cliff Richard joins campaign group backing anonymity before sex offence charges brought

By PA Mediapoint

Pop star Sir Cliff Richard has thrown his support behind a pressure group campaigning for law reform after he was falsely accused of historical sexual assault.

In 2014 a police raid at his Berkshire home was covered by the BBC, using the deployment of a TV helicopter and leading to him being publicly named.

No arrests were made in relation to the accusation against Sir Cliff, and he did not face charges.

He previously said that the trauma of the coverage left him emotionally drained. The singer has since sued the BBC for invasion of privacy – winning £210,000 in damages.

Sir Cliff is now backing Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform (Fair), a new pressure group that is pushing for anonymity for those accused of sexual offences until there is a charge.

“Being falsely accused myself and having that exposed in the media was the worst thing that has happened to me in my entire life,” Sir Cliff said.

“Even though untrue, the stigma is almost impossible to eradicate.

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“Hence the importance of Fair’s campaign to change the law to provide for anonymity before charge in sexual allegations and hence my continued work with Fair in the future.

“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.”

Daniel Janner QC, whose father was the late Labour peer Lord Janner, is the founder and secretary of Fair.

The group strongly believes in anonymity up until charge, and is also calling for a change in the language of criminal proceedings from victims to complainants.

Janner described Sir Cliff’s support as an “enormous boost to our important work”.

“It is a privilege and honour that Sir Cliff has added his support. We campaign to re-balance the scales of justice to protect those falsely accused,” he said.

“At present we are concentrating our efforts to change the law to provide for anonymity until charge for those accused of sexual offences.”

Other Fair supporters include broadcaster Paul Gambaccini who was arrested in October 2013 over a claim he sexually assaulted two teenage boys as part of Operation Yewtree, set up in the wake of the revelations about paedophile Jimmy Savile.

The 69-year-old, a regular fixture on the airwaves for decades, spent a year on bail before the case was dropped.

Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, who had his home raided and was publicly named, is also a supporter of the pressure group.

He was investigated as part of Scotland Yard’s doomed sex abuse probe Operation Midland that centred on claims boys were sexually abused by a number of public figures more than 30 years ago.

The investigation was abandoned amid widespread criticism, with the 72-year-old spending more than a year facing accusations he was a child murderer and rapist before he was finally cleared.

Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

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