Peers including the Bishop of Peterborough have called on the Government to protect the identity of people accused of a crime after their death.
One member of the House of Lords said Anglicans were “deeply ashamed” of the Church of England’s handling of the case of Bishop George Bell, who was accused of abusing a child several decades after his death in 1958.
A report published at the end of last year by Lord Carlile found that the highly-respected bishop’s reputation had been unnecessarily damagedby the Church when it publicly named him in an apology to the alleged victim in 2015.
In a debate in the House of Lords on Monday peers called on the Government to “uphold the cardinal principle that an individual is innocent until proved guilty”.
Official historian of the Conservative Party Lord Lexden asked home office minister Baroness Williams whether the Government would “review the law governing the naming of deceased individuals against whom criminal allegations have been made”.
He called on the Government to review the law in order to to ensure the anonymity of dead suspects accused by “one uncorroborated alleged witness”.
Fellow peer Lord Cormack added that the case was “deeply shocking” and said “the reputation of a great man has been traduced, and many of us who are Anglicans are deeply ashamed of the way that the Anglican Church has behaved”.
The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister echoed the calls and added: “In all cases where the complainant has a right to be anonymous, there seems to be a case for the respondent also to be anonymous, and in cases until there is overwhelming evidence to suggest guilt, it seems reasonable for people’s reputations not to be damaged in this public way.”
However Baroness Williams said the Government “do not have plans to review the law”.
“Any decision to name an individual where that is considered to be in the public interest will necessarily be specific to the circumstances of an individual case,” she said.