Sunday 15 September 2019

Paul Gambaccini warns of ‘false allegation crisis’ ahead of petition launch

The radio presenter said his name was tarnished by the publicity surrounding sex abuse allegations, which were later dropped.

Paul Gambaccini is backing a petition calling for anonymity for those accused of sexual assault (Victoria Jones/PA)
Paul Gambaccini is backing a petition calling for anonymity for those accused of sexual assault (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Sam Blewett and Flora Thompson, PA

DJ Paul Gambaccini warned of a “false allegation crisis”, as he and Sir Cliff Richard prepared to launch a petition calling for anonymity for sexual offence suspects.

The pair, who both had cases against them dropped, are hoping to win a debate in Parliament.

Radio presenter Gambaccini was accused of sexually assaulting two boys when he was arrested in October 2013 as part of Operation Yewtree, which was set up in the wake of revelations about paedophile Jimmy Savile.

He spent a year on bail before the case was dropped.

There are actually two crises - one is a sex abuse crisis and the other is a false allegation crisis Paul Gambaccini

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he wants “a balancing of something which has gone out of balance”.

“At the moment accusers have life-long anonymity and the accused have no seconds of anonymity. And this does, unfortunately, encourage everyone from liars to lunatics to make some false accusations and get in on the action,” he said.

Critics of the Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform (Fair) pressure group’s proposals say it could prevent genuine victims speaking out.

This is not a competition, who has been hurt the most Paul Gambaccini

Gambaccini accepted that publicity surrounding suspects can encourage accusers to come forward, as was the case with black cab rapist John Worboys.

“This is not a competition, who has been hurt the most,” he said.

“There are actually two crises – one is a sex abuse crisis and the other is a false allegation crisis. And anyone who has been wronged, no matter what way, empathise with other people who have been wronged.

“If there is a strong case, as there was, for example, in the taxi driver case … that will come to charge and at that moment other people can come forward.”

The petition, which needs 100,000 signatures to be debated in the Commons, calls only for anonymity until sexual offence suspects are charged.

It is also being championed by Sir Cliff, who won damages from the BBC after the broadcaster covered the 2014 police raid on the pop star’s Berkshire home.

Sir Cliff was never arrested and did not face charges.

Gambaccini told ITV’s Lorraine: “For Cliff and I, our work is not done.

“We have become magnets for people who are still in the system. We get communications from people going through it now.

“It has turned out there has been a stall on this law reform.

“Brexit has taken all of the parliamentary oxygen out of the debate chambers.

“In my case, all of my relatives around the world were contacted by British media while I was still being interviewed in the police station.”

PA Media

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top