The Speaker
Saturday, 18 May 2024 – 11:39

After ground-breaking privacy case Cliff Richard joins anonymity campaign

Sir Cliff Richard has backed a campaign protecting the identities of those accused of sexual offences before official arrests and charges are made.

It comes after the high-profile performer fought and won a legal battle against the BBC for a breach of privacy when they broadcasted a police raid of his home in 2014.

However, no arrests or charges were made in relation to the sexual offence allegations made against him, which in ordered a judge to rule that the broadcaster had violated his privacy rights in a “serious and sensationalist way”.

The BBC were made to pay Sir Cliff Richard £210,000 in damages, plus £850,000 towards his legal costs.

Now the 78-year-old has joined former MP Harvey Proctor and presenter Paul Gambaccini in their Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform (Fair) campaign, to provide anonymity to those accused of sex offences before being arrested or charged.

They say it will protect those who are in fact innocent from having their names condemned in the press and online.

Sir Cliff mentioned in a statement that being falsely accused and exposed in the media was the “worst thing” that had happened to him, making the stigma “almost impossible to eradicate”.

He said: “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, and so plunge my life and those close to me into fear and misery”, he added.

Calls for a change in law have long existed but are often fraught with difficulty due to a perceived infringement on freedom of expression, with journalists arguing it is in the public interest to name those accused.

It is still unclear if legislation reform will come about but if the courts acknowledged Sir Cliff’s privacy was breached, then it seems individuals accused of sex crimes in the future could possibly see their anonymity protected before formal charges are made.

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