MP Nigel Evans has backed Sir Cliff Richard and Paul Gambaccini's new petition calling for anonymity for sexual offence suspects before charge.

The veteran pop star and BBC radio DJ Paul Gambaccini launched their new campaign to change the law yesterday.

By last night it had attracted more than 3,000 of the 100,000 signatures it needs to trigger a Parliamentary debate.

Ribble Valley Tory backbencher Mr Evans, acquitted by a jury of rape and sexual assault in April 2014 after an 11-month ordeal, said: "I look forward to signing this petition and helping change the law.

"People's lives are being destroyed by being named before there is enough evidence to even charge them.

"People think there is no smoke without fire.

"I would have been happy to have been named when I was charged but not when initially interviewed.

"If there are exceptional circumstances, the decision to name a suspect should be decided by a judge."

Police raided Sir Cliff's home in 2014 during an investigation into a sexual assault claim. He was never arrested.

Mr Gambaccini was arrested over sexual abuse allegations in 2013 after the Jimmy Savile scandal but the case was dropped a year later.

Sir Cliff said: "When you know you didn't do it, you feel you're in a hole you can't get out of.

"People can be evil enough to tell a lie about an innocent person."

He called for a 're-balancing of the legal system'.

Currently, alleged victims of sexual offences receive lifelong anonymity but there is no law against naming a suspect.

The group Rape Crisis said false allegations were rare and there were no grounds to change the law.