I’m pretty sure most people in Chichester knew little about George Bell.

The former Bishop of Chichester’s deeds occurred a long, long time ago.

Sure until recently pupils at the local Anglican school could be a member of the house that bore his name.

A lovely bricks and mortar version, Bell House, sits in the cathedral precincts as a venue for conferences and contemplation.

He has an elegant memorial inside the cathedral itself.

But few would have understood the man behind the name.

Now everyone knows about George Bell.

Those aforementioned deeds included becoming perhaps the foremost champion of the German resistance to the growth of Nazism before the war.

He was also a staunch opponent of the bombing of Dresden which some say cost him the post of Archbishop of Canterbury.

An intellectual and friend of Nelson Mandela, Bell was high church indeed. He died way back in 1958.

But we don’t know Bell for all this.

We know him because had he been alive today he would have been arrested on suspicion of child abuse during the 40s and 50s.

Compensation has been paid to his victim and the current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, has delivered a fulsome apology.

Bell’s name is being expunged from the fabric of Chichester.

Perhaps predictably there has been a backlash against all this led by some fairly high profile churchgoers and theologians.

None more so than newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens who insists Bell is a “fair, just, brave man” who deserved the presumption of innocence.

Others have damned the church’s handling of the issues as “slipshod and muddled”.

These points are well made but something troubles me about them.

In a nutshell, should death deny justice for victims? Do the dead escape any form of judgement for their actions?

There are many around the world in places of hideous historical conflict who would say a resounding ‘no’ to this.

The incidents in this abuse case go back more than half a century ago yet the victim still maintains that Bell was the abuser.

That is a lifetime of insistence that is powerfully persuasive.

On the balance of evidence the church has concluded this to be true and has compensated the victim.

What was it then to do? Keep it secret?

Compound the error that first occurred when another former Bishop Eric Kemp did nothing when the victim came to him in 1995?

In six years in Northern Ireland I saw first hand the damage the Catholic Church inflicted on itself by decades of cover ups over child sex abuse.

The entire island of Ireland, but particularly the Republic, is a far more secular place today partly because of this fracture of trust.

It is manifestly inappropriate that Bell’s name should adorn institutions in the city he served. Even more alarming would it have been if the school, unaware of the abuse, had continued to tell generations of pupils of his righteousness.

Bell shall keep his place in history as a thinker, an intellectual, a man consistently on the right side of history But this new added chapter on his darker side will forever cast a dark cloud over the rest of the story. I cannot see how it could be anything different.

The Argus:

I’ve been going to Barcelona for a long weekend with three other mates for about 15 years.

Scattered to the four corners we decided the only way we could keep in touch was to visit a different European city once a year and take in a football match.

The first year we went to Barcelona and have been going back ever since, so eclectic and exciting is it.

And of course there was the added bonus of a football team which has consistently turned sport into an art form.

We see ourselves as adopted Catalans now so there was no other place to be than sitting on the sofa on Saturday night with Barca top on watching us beat Real Madrid (or the fascists as we call them) 4-0.