Stephen Fry ‘backs pressure group pushing for anonymity reform in sex cases’

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Stephen Fry has joined the group (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Stephen Fry is reported to have added his support to a pressure group pushing for law reform around naming sex offence suspects before they are charged.

The actor and broadcaster joins the likes of Sir Cliff Richard, who has also pledged to work with Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform (Fair), on its campaign, according to the Sunday Times.

The group was founded by Daniel Janner QC, whose father was the late Labour peer Lord Janner.

Sir Cliff Richard has also joined the campaign (Victoria Jones/PA)
Sir Cliff Richard has also joined the campaign (Victoria Jones/PA)

Fry hit out at the “fly-paper tactics” which he said have been used by police and prosecutors in publicising the names of well-known suspects in the hope it may attract more alleged victims.

He was quoted in the Sunday Times as saying: “I have a severe dislike and distrust of what I called the fly-paper tactics of the police and Crown Prosecution Service – hanging up the names of (especially well-known) people and hoping that this will attract flies.”

Fry has previously spoken out on the issue, saying in an interview in 2014: “If they’re guilty then quite clearly there should (be) evidence … but they shouldn’t be hung out like fly paper to try to attract other… ‘Oh yeah, I think he touched me too when I was that age’.”

Earlier this month Sir Cliff, who was falsely accused of historical sexual assault, pledged his support for Fair, saying he would not have experienced the “fear and misery” he did as a result of being publicly named had there been anonymity in law.

Fair is also campaigning for a change in the language of criminal proceedings from victims to complainants, and urging support for families of those accused to match the assistance given to complainants.

Mr Janner, who is secretary of Fair, said he hoped to welcome more influential people including judges and academics to the group in the near future.

He said: “We have received hundreds of emails of support and many heart-wrenching examples from innocent people from all walks of life whose lives were wrecked by the smear of the publicity. This campaign will not let them down.”

He said the group intends to launch an online petition calling on Parliament to change the law and provide anonymity for suspects before they are charged.

He said: “This pressure group is rapidly becoming a sharp tool for rebalancing the criminal justice system.”

A strand of the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse has been formed specifically focusing on Lord Janner, who died in December 2015.

He is alleged to have abused youngsters over a period spanning more than 30 years dating back to the 1950s – allegations strenuously denied by his family.

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