British singer Cliff Richard appeared in front of the British Parliament in London on Monday to demand that people accused of sex crimes remain anonymous until they are charged. Richard, 78, one of Britain’s best-known artists, was investigated in 2014 for an alleged sexual assault on a minor from which he was finally cleared two years later. In addition, in July 2018 the artist won a lawsuit against the BBC for violation of his private life after the private network broadcast live images of the police searching his Berkshire home for evidence while he was on vacation.
Under current law, alleged victims of sex crimes are given anonymity, but suspects can be identified and their names made public. Both police and prosecutors argue that failing to conceal the identity of those accused of sex crimes can encourage other victims to report it, which is key to investigations.
“I felt like I was in a hole that I couldn’t get out of. My reputation was totally shattered. I thought, will I ever get over it? I’ve gotten over it ”, admitted the artist, recalling his personal situation. Richards, who came to be considered the British Elvis Presley and reached number one in the United Kingdom 14 times throughout his career between the 1950s and 1990s, has always denied the facts that he was accused of. The singer was never arrested, but he did go voluntarily on two occasions to testify, the first of them after the search of his house in August 2014, a police operation that occurred while he was on vacation in Portugal and which was broadcast practically live on the BBC.
Together with Richard, the British radio host and television presenter, Pual Gamaccini, the comedian Stephen Fry and the businessman and member of the House of Lords, Michael Grade, who has encouraged everyone to participate in the collection of signatures because, in case of exceeding 100,000 signatures, it can be debated in parliament. As of Monday noon, Cliff Richard’s proposal had more than 6,000 signatures.
Gambaccini, who has also faced unsubstantiated allegations of sex crimes in the past, said he had been left under a cloud of suspicion and unable to work until he was acquitted. “[Esta ley] encourages everyone from liars to lunatics to make false accusations, ”the radio host told the BBC.