View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Law
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”.

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

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.”

Topics in this article : , , ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network