Cliff Richard wants sex crime suspects to be granted anonymity

Women's rights group calls on entertainer to reconsider his campaign

cliff richard

Sir Cliff Richard | File photo: PA Images

Cliff Richard has been urged to abandon his campaign to give anonymity to those accused of sexual offences.

The entertainer has joined forces with DJ Paul Gambaccini, British MP Nigel Evans and the widow of former Home Secretary Leon Brittan to try to change the law, and will address the House of Lords on the issue today.

All have first-hand experience of being named as suspects in sexual offence cases that did not lead to convictions. 

A women's rights group has now called on them to reconsider to "show respect for - and prevent significant harm to - both survivors of abuse across the UK, and the UK's legal process".

In a letter, the End Violence Against Women Coalition say: "While we sympathise with how you feel about your treatment in the media, we do however believe your campaign directed at the criminal justice system, and specifically the rules on anonymity, is a grossly misdirected one." 

Co-director Sarah Green told Sky News: "Our legal system is an open justice system. It's very important that the whole community knows who's accused of a crime, what they may be charged with and the evidence."

The successful prosecutions of Rolf Harris and publicist Max Clifford both saw further victims and witnesses come forward following publicity about their arrests. 

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: "In some cases where people have been named post-charge, more complainants have come forward ... so more offending has been brought to light, so there's a very careful balance." 

Mr Richard's campaign has, however, received support from some families who have been through the process of having a loved one accused of such a crime.