by Abdul Hussain
As one may have heard in the news as of late, world-renowned elderly singer Cliff Richard came out of hiding to talk about how he has been victimized by the claims that he was sexually assaulting someone, and that he decided to launch an anonymity campaign to protect the identities of those who are accused of sexual crimes, while crying about his personal issues that he had during the time that he was accused of sexual abuse, like having sleepless nights and shingles.
The campaign itself was founded with the assistance of a “pressure group (sic)” that goes under the name Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform, which was, as pointed out by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the son of an accused child abuser Greville Janner, Daniel Janner, and has support from high-profile (in the UK most definitely at least) personalities such as the American-British presenter who was also accused of sex offenses, Paul Gambaccini, alongside ex-Tory Member of Parliament, Harvey Proctor, and a law student, Liam Allan, all of which shared the same fate, or similar fate as each other, and the pressure group now has the backing of Cliff Richard himself.
The campaign pushes for ensuring the anonymity of the suspects of crimes, especially sexual crimes during police investigations, and while the cases remain unsolved, which the Cliff Richard controversy and the “Cliff’s Law” plans have made the news in July 2018, with Anna Soubry calling for the same requests as the ones made by Cliff Richard with the intention of having it enshrined in law.
However, while the calls for granting anonymity for suspects are legitimately very understandable, especially with the prevalence of a phenomenon known as “cancel culture”, whereby minor disagreements, especially those of a political nature, or minor mistakes made in life are dealt with via the calls for a mass boycott, usually with the consequence of getting the targeted people sacked and deprived of their livelihood, and with figures like Tariq Ramadan being demonized, criminalized, and deprived of a fair trial, it can add credence to the arguments Cliff Richard et al have made, especially with the ever-altering testimonies made against Tariq Ramadan, and the story of two falsely suspected “rapists” who are freed due to false rape accusations that was enacted upon with jail terms for the targeted “rapists”, and even the story of a serial fraudster, Amanda Movius, in which she fabricated a rape story against photographer Matthew L. Kees, amongst an additional number of cases of fake rape stories with ramifications, there are concerns when it comes to anonymizing suspects until crime cases are concluded, such as the freedom of speech concerns, stifling the ability to make complainants and actual victims come forward to testify against the suspect(s), and how investigations are conducted as a whole, not to mention that there are already some protections put in place to prevent or minimize consequence-free public witch-hunts, with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown also bringing up the concern that more actual abusers may be able to escape the wrath of justice if Cliff/FAIR et al’s proposals are fully realised.
Personally though, situations like these are complex, with no simple, universal approach to the problem, and while support for the wrongfully accused needs improvement, especially when they get wrongly demonized once their names are publicly linked to a criminal event for a long period of time, there already are adequate rules in place (as per the UK laws) to allow the disciplinary procedures to be correctly executed against those who actually are guilty of committing crimes, and the execution of following the current laws need to be improved to minimise or prevent people involved in a crime from getting wrongly demonized.
Lastly, I do not endorse anyone who has committed crimes like those mentioned in this article, and I do not endorse criminals here, regardless of who they are, and I also do not endorse those who falsely accuse people of committing a crime, and I do not endorse false and sensationalist demonization of people.