The Accused: National Treasures are on trial

Wednesday: The Accused: National Treasures on Trial - (Channel 4, 9pm)

Paul Gambaccini, Sir Cliffe Richard and Neil Fox
Paul Gambaccini, Sir Cliffe Richard and Neil Fox

This year marks 10 years since the launch of Operation Yewtree, the police investigation introduced in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, that put a number of Britain’s biggest entertainers in the dock for historic sex crimes.

While some celebrities, including Gary Glitter, Ray Teret, Stuart Hall, Max Clifford, Fred Talbot and Rolf Harris were arrested and convicted, others were accused but never charged.

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Among them were pop legend Sir Cliff Richard, radio DJ Paul Gambaccini and former Pop Idol judge Neil Fox.

In this documentary from the team behind Caroline Flack: Her Life & Death, the trio reveal what it was like to be caught in the eye of the storm.

Sir Cliff, now 81, won his privacy case against the BBC over its coverage of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014, following a child sex assault allegation.

Richard went on to sue the BBC for invasion of privacy after the network broadcast a police raid of his home during the operation.

He was awarded £210,000 in damages and over £2million in legal costs, although he said the sum didn’t cover the full cost of the legal bills he incurred in a bid to clear his name.

Meanwhile, Gambaccini was arrested in October 2013 over a claim that he sexually assaulted two teenage boys.

The 73-year-old, who has been a regular fixture on the airwaves for decades, spent a year on bail before the case was dropped.

Finally, former Capital FM presenter Fox, 61, was accused of eight counts of indecent assault and two of sexual assault dating back to the late 1980s, involving young fans and colleagues.

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He was cleared of all 10 counts at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in December 2015.

This programme views the events through their eyes as the three men open up about the impact that being investigated had on their lives, careers and reputations.

Director Christian Collerton’s film includes exclusive, never-before-seen video diaries recorded with Paul and Neil at the time, as well as interviews with their families showing the effect the events had on them.

Police officers and journalists involved with Operation Yewtree and similar investigations into cases of historic sexual abuse also speak out.

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While most people see the operations as a force for good, Sir Cliff, Paul and Neil call this into question.

To them, it was a media witch-hunt that got out of control. And since being cleared, Sir Cliff and Gambaccini have launched a campaign calling for suspects to have their anonymity protected by law unless they are charged.

With that in mind, this programme compels us to re-evaluate what was a watershed moment in recent British history, one that radically transformed the nation’s culture and attitudes towards sex, sexual politics and celebrity forever.

It asks difficult questions about how we balance the rights and freedoms of famous people with the responsibility to deliver justice to victims of heinous crimes.