Is it right that unproven, sometimes hysterical accusations can be made against the deceased? …
…By way of an example, consider the backlash following lurid accusations about Jimmy Savile in ITV’s heavily promoted Exposure documentary on 3 October 2012. By 8 October, his family had his headstone removed from his grave, for fear of vandalism. The hysteria generated by the media continued to escalate. Vandals targeted his holiday home in Scotland. That level of threat certainly sounds serious enough to engage a new Article 8 right, to protect the dead and their families.
Again, headlines like the Daily Express one that said ’ ‘Jimmy Savile was part of Satanic ring: Savile beat and raped a 12-year-old girl during a secret Satanic ritual in a hospital’ could not be more sensational, provocative and extreme.
That story continued: ‘Savile, who died aged 84 in October 2011, is now Britain’s worst sex offender after police revealed he preyed on at least 450 victims aged eight to 47.’
If Savile were alive, one can imagine the libel writ coming the very same day. That Express report omits to mention that Satanic ritual abuse is a myth, which was comprehensively debunked in the early 1990s. It also fails to explain how the police are arbiters of truth in historical sex claims. Savile was Catholic, and such vilification might even be said to evoke older Protestant stereotypes of Catholics as agents of the anti-Christ.