Sir Cliff Richard backs calls for anonymity reform following BBC court battle

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Sir Cliff Richard is backing a campaign for those accused of sexual offences to remain anonymous until they are charged 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.

He was also 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”.

But the 78-year-old maintains that the stigma attached to the sexual assault allegation is “almost impossible to eradicate” and so has thrown his support behind a group campaigning for law reform.

Falsely Accused Individuals For Reform (Fair) wants to secure anonymity for those accused of sexual offences until there is a charge, and reclassify those who make such allegations from victims to claimants.

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

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

“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.”

Sir Cliff added that had such a law existed at the time of the raid on his home, the operation would not have been filmed and he would not have been named.

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 of the singer.

“It is a privilege and honour that Sir Cliff has added his support,” he said.

“We campaign to re-balance the scales of justice to protect those falsely accused. 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 veteran broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, 69, who was arrested in October 2013 over a claim he sexually assaulted two teenage boys.

The allegation was made as part of Operation Yewtree, which set up in 2012 in the wake of revelations about the serial paedophile Jimmy Savile, but the case was dropped after the radio presenter spent a year on bail.

Another backer is the 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 the allegations, brought about by a doomed Metropolitan Police sex abuse probe dubbed Operation Midland, before he was finally cleared.

(c) Sky News 2019: Sir Cliff Richard backs calls for anonymity reform following BBC court battle

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