The Cliff Richard case should be the catalyst to trigger an urgent change in the law so that, unless convicted, those accused of sex offences are granted the same anonymity as their alleged victims, the country`s most high profile lawyer has claimed.
Criminal defence lawyer Nick Freeman – known as Mr. Loophole for his ability to secure acquittals for celebrity clients – believes it is ‘outrageously unfair’ for defendants to have their reputations traduced before the outcome of a trial while their accusers enjoy lifelong protection.
“The case against Cliff Richard proves once and for all that we need to change the law. His right to privacy was invaded. What about his right to anonymity. Why was the public entitled to know that he was being investigated for allegations of a sexual nature? The fact that he is a well known personality does not of itself mean that it is in the public interest – other than the fact the public are interested.
“There has never been a more high profile case to justify the need to change the law for defendant anonymity in sex cases.”
Cliff Richard was awarded £210,000 pounds in damages Wednesday after winning a privacy lawsuit against the BBC for its coverage of a police raid at his home. Police don’t normally identify people suspected of crimes until they are charged.
The 77-year-old singer was never arrested or charged with any crime.
Mr Freeman added: “People who are charged with allegations of a sexual nature should be afforded the same degree of protection as their accusers until such time as they are convicted. The damage these allegations can cause to a person’s reputation is immense. The stigma will typically remain for a lifetime.”
Following the ruling Sir Cliff has said he now won’t go anywhere near children.
Nick Freeman further added: “This latest case should be surely being the crowning piece of case law to trigger a change in statute. We need to reverse the status quo to the way things were in 1976 when defendants in rape cases were granted anonymity by law. Obviously every case needs to be look at on its own merit and the starting point should be one of anonymity. However the Crown should be allowed to make application to a judge, to lift anonymity when the public interest dictates.”
Defendants forfeited their right to anonymity following the Criminal Justice Act 1988 after it was pointed out that the accused in other equally damaging cases did not enjoy the same right. Complainants retain lifelong protection from being named.
Following the case a High Court judge ruled Cliff Richard was entitled to “substantial damages” from the BBC following a televised raid of his home.
“The problem is that today many allegations of sexual misconduct now hinge on the issue of consent for which there is often very little independent evidence,” added Mr Freeman, who has long campaigned for anonymity for defendants until proven guilty. “There needs to be parity as a starting point in the justice system . What greater proof to we need than the treatment of Cliff Richard to rectify this injustice?”
About Freeman & Co.
Freeman & Co. are a specialist firm of road traffic and criminal defence solicitors based in Manchester but with nationwide coverage.
Freeman & Co. specialise in a wide variety of road traffic cases, ranging from drink driving, speeding and mobile phone offences, to name but a few.
The firm was created by Nick Freeman, who has been dubbed “Mr Loophole” by the press for his technical legal ability and robustly challenging the prosecution.
Nick is well regarded as an expert road traffic lawyer and has successfully represented many high profile clients for a variety of motoring offences as well as criminal offences.
The firm of Freeman & Co. embodies the way Nick works, with minute attention to detail and challenging the prosecution at every turn.
If you are facing a road traffic matter or criminal offence and need the services of Freeman & Co. please call on 0161 236 7007.
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Freeman & Co Solicitors
8 Oxford Court
Tel. 0161 236 7007