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Crime

Sir Cliff Richard, Paul Gambaccini and Nigel Evans call for sex abuse claims reform

Nick Duffy July 4, 2016

Sir Cliff Richard and Tory MP Nigel Evans have called for reform of the way sex abuse claims are dealt with – after a string of high-profile allegations were dismissed.

Mr Evans, the MP for Ribble Valley, held a high-ranking post in the Commons until 2013, when he was arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault.

He was suspended from the Conservative Party for the duration of the case – but later won re-election after he was acquitted of all charges.

Mr Evans this week met up with Paul Gambaccini and Sir Cliff Richard, who have both also faced public sex abuse claims that were later dropped, The trio called or reform on the issue.

The MP told the Telegraph: “We have got common ground but there are also a load of other people we have common ground with.

“I think a lot of people do understand, but not fully. You have to go through the torture, you have to go through the fire, in order to know exactly how the burns and scars are earned.

“The three of us have gone through this torture, and we have come through it and we now want to do some good.”

According to the newspaper, the trio intended to lobby for anonymity for those accused of sexual offences.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 grants victims of sexual offences lifelong anonymity from the moment an accusation is made.

Sir Cliff Richard suggested last week that similar protections should be introduced for people facing allegations until they are verified.

The Christian singer has threatened action against South Yorkshire Police, for allowing the BBC to film a raid on his home in 2014. The case against him was later dropped.

Mr Evans said previously: “Lives are being wrecked by false rape complaints. It is time, surely, to debate this properly.

“Several options can be investigated, from anonymity until charge to until trial or even until conviction.

“I am fully aware of the downsides to this, but I have tasted the bitterness of publicity and believe that it should be accorded an equal weight of recognition.”

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