Sir Cliff campaign for sex offence anonymity 'not going far enough'  

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

People who are accused of sexual offences should remain anonymous until they are convicted, according to barrister Jerry Hayes.

The former Conservative MP for Harlow said Sir Cliff Richard's campaign to grant anonymity to people until they are charged is "not going far enough", arguing that they should remain anonymous throughout the court process.

“People should remain anonymous until conviction or they plead guilty, unless they can prove to a judge that it’s in the interest of the investigation,” he told talkRADIO's Mike Graham.

Singer Sir Cliff was wrongly accused of historic child sex offences in 2014, and this week launched a petition to change the law around anonymity with pressure group Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform (FAIR).

The 78-year-old said the accusations against him had left his reputation in "tatters".

Responding to the petition, support group Rape Crisis said false accusations were rare, and that there were "no grounds" for a change in legislation.

Currently, all alleged victims of sexual offences are automatically granted lifelong anonymity, but Mr Hayes said the accusers and the accused should be on a "level playing field".

"There has got to be equality, there’s got to be a level playing field," he continued.

“It is right that the complainant should be given every opportunity to have the right to be believed, to be treated with respect but at the same time, it’s for the prosecution to prove the case, you go in there as an innocent man.”

Sir Cliff's petition has so far garnered 16,000 signatures. If it reaches 100,000 it could be debated in Parliament.

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