I’M not impressed with Cliff Richard after the last week. I know that, like everyone else, I’m supposed to be pouring out buckets of sympathy for him and decrying the evil media for invading his privacy, but, actually, I’m quite angry with him.

Following his court victory on Wednesday, in which the BBC was ordered to pay £210,000 in damages when a judge agreed with Richard’s argument that his privacy had been unlawfully breached when the Beeb broadcast live pictures of his home being raided amid Operation Yewtree investigations into historic sex offences, he made an astounding comment. “I’d rather 10 guilty people get away with it than one innocent person suffer,” he said.

Well, Sir Cliff, thanks to you, that may well happen.

We already know how difficult it is to secure convictions for sexual offences. We know that men, women and children often tell nobody of their experiences, for years sometimes, because the trauma is so incredibly disabling. We know from those who’ve gone through the criminal justice system in a bid to find justice that it can be a gruelling experience. And we also know that the perpetrators of these crimes are particularly dangerous people: these are generally not one-off incidents, and one offender can harm many victims in their lifetime.

Something else we know is that false accusations are relatively rare in comparison to the number of real sexual offences, and yet we spend so much time talking about it. Ultimately, the lay of the land when it comes to these crimes is that offenders already have better chances of getting away with it than victims do of ever even getting close to justice. It’s not that I don’t have any sympathy for Richard – I can imagine how horrifying and destructive it is to be very publicly accused of a crime when, in the end, not a single charge is brought forward – but I can’t defend how he’s chosen to handle it.

Sir Cliff is a huge name. He’s a global star. Instead of lashing out at media organisations for reporting, in the public interest, that he’d been accused of a serious crime, he could have used those media channels to subsequently tell his story. He could have spoken about the effect this whole sorry episode had had on him; he could have been an advocate for others who’ve ever been in his position while respecting the fact that the substantially bigger problem is in getting the real bad guys off the street. He’s in the enviable position of having the kind of status and money that makes people listen to what he has to say.

But instead, he chose a route that could have grave consequences for the victims of sex crimes. It’s important to remember the backdrop to the Richard episode: all of this was in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile revelations. Other high-profile figures in British showbiz life – such as PR guru Max Clifford, TV personality Rolf Harris and BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall – have, in recent years, been jailed for historic sex offences. There was an element of panic spreading through the public about the prevalence of these crimes at such a high-profile level, and there was mounting pressure on police to find culprits.

One thing these men had in common was multiple accusers, and the reason police name suspects early in an investigation is often to encourage other victims to step forward. This can be crucial in collecting evidence and strengthening the case against highly-dangerous people.

Does that mean that – again, rarely – there’s a risk of an innocent person being publicly named in the course of an investigation? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. There is no perfect balance here: if the choice is between 10 guilty men – like Savile, Clifford, Harris or Hall – being left free to roam the streets and one innocent person having to endure the horror of being investigated (but ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing), I’m sorry, but I know what side I’m on.

The judgement in Sir Cliff’s case will leave every newspaper and broadcast editor in the UK fearful of publishing information about sexual offences cases. And it’s a slippery slope: it won’t stop at refraining from publishing identities ahead of being charged – before we know it, there’ll be campaigns to prevent reporting of actual court cases unless a conviction is secured. Justice will go behind closed doors, and it astounds me that people don’t see the glaring danger in that.

This judgement has shifted the balance of justice further in favour of criminals. I’m sorry that Sir Cliff had the experience that he had and he has every right to feel aggrieved, but I’m even more sorry that he ever believed this was the way to fix it.