Ex-adviser cleared of rape charges calls for anonymity for accused

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A former government adviser cleared of rape charges has backed calls for a change in the law to give those accused of sex crimes anonymity.

Farooq Siddique, 47, was exonerated of three rapes, two charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one charge of making a threat to kill after prosecutors offered no evidence at Bristol Crown Court.

Mr Siddique, a high-profile member of the Muslim community in Bristol who had previously advised the government on radicalisation, described the last two and a half years as "sheer hell".

And he has now added his name to calls for those accused of sexual offences to be given similar protection as complainants.

"The past two-and-a-half years of my life have been turned upside down by allegations made against me," Mr Siddique said in a statement read outside court.

"I am pleased the Crown Prosecution Service has finally reached the common sense conclusion that there is no case for me to answer based on evidence that was both in its and the police's possession from the very outset.

"Whilst today I have been totally exonerated of these allegations and formally acquitted on all of the charges against me, this is not a time for celebration.

"I have spent nearly two and a half years fighting to clear my name. It has taken far too long to get to this point. I am satisfied this travesty has ended today. I can now begin to rebuild my life after 900 days of sheer hell.

"These two and a half years have been an enormous struggle both mentally and physically."

Mr Siddique said he wanted to see victims of crime supported through the legal process but added: "It cannot be right that a person making allegations of this nature has a right to anonymity for life while the person accused has their name and reputation dragged through the gutter.

"Therefore, I will be voice to the growing chorus of calls lobbying for a change in the law, demanding anonymity to all parties in cases of this nature, until trial at the very least."