Cliff Richard and Stephen Fry launch sex offence anonymity campaign

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Paul Gambaccini said he lived under a ‘cloud of suspicion’

DJ Paul Gambaccini is warning of a “false allegation crisis”, as he joins other well-known figures launching a petition calling for anonymity for sexual offence suspects.

Mr Gambaccini was arrested over sexual abuse allegations in 2013 in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

The DJ said he lived under a “cloud of suspicion” until the case was dropped.

Currently, alleged victims of sexual offences receive lifelong anonymity, but suspects can be named at any time.

Mr Gambaccini is one of several well-known figures backing the campaign group Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform (Fair). Other backers includes Stephen Fry and Sir Cliff Richard.

The group is launching a parliamentary petition calling for those suspected of sexual offences to be given anonymity until they are charged unless there are exceptional circumstances.

It needs 100,000 signatures to be considered for a debate in Parliament.

Mr Gambaccini told Radio 4’s Today programme that having his identity revealed made spending a year on bail on suspicion of sexually assaulting two teenage boys more difficult.

“Everyone thought it would be a three-month wonder because I didn’t even know these two people, but it turns out that it’s dragged out and what makes it worse is that it’s publicised,” he said.

The BBC took him off air on Radio 2 and Radio 4 for a year “without anyone from management even asking me what it had been about because I was under a cloud of suspicion”, he said.

“All members of my family around the world were contacted by the British media while I was still being interviewed in the police station. This must be stopped.”

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Sir Cliff Richard is also backing the campaign

Asked whether publicly naming suspects after they have been arrested encourages more victims to come forward, Mr Gambaccini said: “This is not competition, who has been hurt the most.

“There are actually two crises – one is a sex abuse crisis and the other is a false allegation crisis.

“When you solicit more accusations, most of them turn out to be false.”

He said the current law encouraged “everyone from liars to lunatics to make some false accusations and get in on the action”.

If a suspect was named only after being charged, further victims would be able to report their abuse then, he said.

The petition was calling for “a balancing of something that has gone out of balance”, he added.

Fellow campaigner Sir Cliff Richard’s Berkshire home was raided by South Yorkshire Police in 2014 as part of an investigation into an allegation of historical sexual assault.

The BBC was tipped off, named Sir Cliff and filmed the operation using a helicopter.

In the end, Sir Cliff was not arrested or charged with any offence and he later successfully sued the BBC for breach of privacy.

Despite this, some people still think “there’s no smoke without fire”, he will say later.

“All of this could have been avoided had my name not been publicised in the first place.”

Fair was founded by Daniel Janner QC, whose father, Lord Janner, was charged with 22 sexual offences, but ruled unfit to stand trial before he died.

Both defendants and complainants in rape cases were granted anonymity 1976, but Parliament repealed anonymity for defendants 12 years later.

It was argued that comparison should be made not between a rape defendant and alleged victim, but between a rape defendant and a defendant charged with another serious crime.

Anonymity has since been extended to those who allege to be victims of other sexual offences, not just rape.

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