Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:26 pm on 20th December 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Chakrabarti Baroness Chakrabarti Shadow Attorney General 4:26 pm, 20th December 2018

Perhaps I may come to that in a moment. I will try to make progress on account of the time. It can be an injustice one way or another and I hope that those charged with this inquiry, which we have all welcomed, will take on board comments noble Lords have made today when they come to read Hansard.

It has been a long-held principle of the common law that the dead cannot be defamed. As a human rights analysis it must be right, as the noble Lord, Lord Finkelstein, did, to take on board the interests of loved ones and legacies to public service that can be damaged if these decisions are made lightly or improperly. I can do no better than to end with the words of another fine journalist, if only to recognise the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Finkelstein. These are the words of Edward Murrow, the great American journalist. He said:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law ... we will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. If we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, we will remember we are not descended from fearful men”— or women, by the way—

“not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular”.

Happy Christmas, my Lords.