Singer Cliff Richard, centre, arrives at the Rolls Building in London. File picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP

London - British rock icon Cliff Richard is calling for people suspected of sex crimes to be granted anonymity until charged, saying his life was thrown into turmoil by false allegations splashed across the media.

Richard was interviewed in 2014 by police investigating an alleged sex assault. He was never arrested or charged, but footage of his house being raided was broadcast.

British police don't formally identify suspects until they are charged, but names frequently become public.

Richard and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who was arrested in 2013 over abuse claims that were later dropped, launched a petition Monday calling for a "re-balancing of the legal system."

Singer Cliff Richard, centre right, with radio DJ Paul Gambaccini, left, and legal QC Daniel Janner, centre, launch a campaign to protect the anonymity of people accused of sexual crime until they are officially charged with an offence in London. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA via AP

Richard said he'd "been through the mill. When you know you didn't do it, you feel you're in a hole you can't get out of."