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July 4, 2016

Sir Cliff Richard, Paul Gambaccini and Nigel Evans MP launch campaign to secure media anonymity for sex crime accused

By Freddy Mayhew

Sir Cliff Richard has joined broadcaster Paul Gambaccini and Tory MP Nigel Evans to campaign for a change in the law after all three were accused of sexual offences before having the cases against them dropped.

The three met up at the weekend to discuss setting up a support group for others who had been wrongly accused and said they intended to lobby for anonymity for those accused of sexual offences, according to the Telegraph.

Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 only the victim of a sexual offence is granted lifelong anonymity, coming into effect the instant an accusation is made. This means reporters cannot include anything that may lead to their identification in reports unless given express written permission by the victim.

Since the 1980s, adult defendants have not been offered any legal protection. However several European countries, such as Germany, impose anonymity until conviction.

The drive for change comes after Richard faced a two-year battle against charges of historic sexual abuse on four men between 1958 and 1983, all of which were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service last month. The first allegation against Sir Cliff was received in April 2014.

The BBC struck a deal with South Yorkshire Police to film a raid on Richard’s home in August 2014 as part of the force’s investigation into the allegations.

The corporation has since issued Richard with an apology saying it was “very sorry” for the “distress” he had suffered through its coverage, but maintained it had a “responsibility is to report fully stories that are in the public interest”.

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South Yorkshire Police also apologised “wholeheartedly” for any “additional anxiety” caused by its handling of media interest.

Radio Two presenter Gambaccini, 67, was arrested as part of Operation Yewtree in November 2013 over allegations of historical sex offences. He spent a year on police bail before being cleared without charge.

Vote Leave campaigner Evans, MP for Ribble Valley, was acquitted of nine charges of rape and sexual assault in 2014. He posted an image of himself alongside Richard and Gambaccini on Facebook on Sunday.

Speaking to the Telegraph, he said: “We have got common ground but there are also a load of other people we have common ground with.”

He added: “I think a lot of people do understand, but not fully. You have to go through the torture, you have to go through the fire, in order to know exactly how the burns and scars are earned.

“The three of us have gone through this torture, and we have come through it and we now want to do some good.”

Richardtold the Daily Mail: “If we can change a little factor like making sure people like me, Paul, Jimmy Tarbuck and everyone else don’t get named unless charged, that would make all that I’ve been through almost worthwhile… almost, not completely.”

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