Police raided the 81-year-old singer’s home in 2014 as part of an investigation into a sex assault claim.
Richard, who denied the claims and was never arrested or charged, said being falsely accused could “completely destroy you” as he urged people to back the campaign to change the law so suspects have anonymity unless they are charged.
Speaking in the House of Lords on Wednesday (8 June), he branded the internet a “disaster area for most people now”, claiming his name will “forever” be on the dark web “as the man accused of the dastardly deed.”
The singer also pointed out that there were times he would awake with his pulses racing and feared he was “going to die of a heart attack”.
“I can’t express it strongly enough to know what it’s like to be an innocent man and also know that the person that accused you has anonymity in perpetuity.
“I’m past that terrible time but will I ever get over it? The answer is no.”
A man that accused Richard of sex abuse was arrested over a plot to blackmail the singer in 2016, yet his claims were still investigated by police.
According to a Sunday People report from the time, after seeing the police raiding Richard’s home on television, the alleged victim, who remains unnamed, threatened to spread “false stories” unless he received a sum of money.
This week, Richard and DJ Paul Gambaccini also revived a campaign calling for suspects to have their anonymity protected by law unless they are charged.
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Both men, who were both cleared of sex offence accusations, joined forces with the pressure group Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform (Fair) to campaign for changes to legislation.
Three years ago the pair said they wanted to “redress the balance” in the legal system as they launched a petition to see those accused of sexual offences remain anonymous until charged, saying this was needed to “protect the reputations of all innocent suspects, whether well-known or not, from the lasting stigma of a false sexual allegation”.
The group said the petition received 27,000 signatures before it “had to be abandoned” when the general election was called.
Now, they are pressing the government to include an amendment in the next criminal justice bill because they believe the “law on privacy provides inadequate protection”.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.