Age of consent should be "lowered to 13 to stop persecution of old men", says top UK barrister
2013-05-10 0:00

From: Express

A top female barrister has sparked outrage after claiming the age of consent in Britain should be lowered to 13 in order to stop the "persecution of old men" in the wake of the Savile sex abuse scandal.

Lawyer Barbara Hewson’s [right] shocking comments have been condemned by children’s charities after she dismissed child sex abuse crimes as mere "low level misdemeanours" which would not normally be prosecuted.

Describing the recent arrests of multiple celebrities like Stuart Hall under Operation Yewtree as a "grotesque spectacle," Hewson bizarrely likened what she saw as the post-Jimmy Savile "witch-hunt" to Soviet-era Russia.

Jimmy Savile
Last month BBC veteran Hall admitted 14 indecent assaults on girls as young as nine, while Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree, launched after the claims against Savile, has arrested Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter, DJ Dave Lee Travis, comedian Jim Davidson and PR guru Max Clifford. All deny any wrongdoing.

As well as calling for the age of consent to be lowered to 13, Ms Hewson also sparked anger saying guaranteed anonymity to sexual abuse complainants should be removed, and the statute of limitations reformed to prevent historic allegations being prosecuted.

Ms Hewson, a barrister at Hardwicke chambers, sensationally said Operation Yewtree and its "attendant zealots" posed more threat to society than anything Savile did, accusing law enforcement agencies of "fetishising victimhood."

"The low-level misdemeanours with which Stuart Hall was charged are nothing like serious crime," she wrote for online magazine Spiked.

"Ordinarily, Hall’s misdemeanours would not be prosecuted, and certainly not decades after the event.

"What we have here is the manipulation of the British criminal-justice system to produce scapegoats on demand. It is a grotesque spectacle."

She went on to say that "touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt" were not comparable to gang rapes or murders.

Children’s charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said to hear such "outdated and simply ill-informed" views from a highly-experienced barrister "beggars belief."

"Stuart Hall has pleaded guilty to abusing children as young as nine years old, we think most people would agree that crimes of this nature are incredibly serious," said Peter Watt, director of the NSPCC helpline.

"Thankfully the law, and most people, are very clear on this matter.


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