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  1. ITV Report

Sir Cliff Richard launches legal anonymity reform petition

Sir Cliff Richard and DJ Paul Gambaccini have launched a petition to try to force a change in the law to give anonymity to those who are accused of sexual offences until they are charged.

Sir Cliff, 78, won his privacy case against the BBC over its coverage of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014, following a child sex assault allegation.

He denied the allegation and was never arrested, in June 2016 prosecutors announced that Sir Cliff would face no charges.

Credit: Press Association

The anonymity petition, to be officially launched in Westminster, has already garnered more than 2,000 signatures.

It declares that anonymity is needed to "to protect the reputations of all innocent suspects, whether well-known or not, from the lasting stigma of a false sexual allegation."

Sir Cliff said in a statement on the Fair (Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform) pressure group's website:

Being falsely accused myself and having that exposed in the media was the worst thing that has happened to me in my entire life.

"Even though untrue, the stigma is almost impossible to eradicate. 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, (even though the South Yorkshire Police had decided not to) and so plunge my life and those close to me into fear and misery."

– Sir Cliff Richard

If support for the petition tops 10,000 signatures, it will get a government response, while 100,000 signatures will mean it is considered for debate in Parliament.