Thursday, May 09 2013 12PM: PUBLISHED: 19:03, 8 May 2013 | UPDATED: 22:19, 8 May 2013
Age of consent should be lowered to 13 to stop persecution of old men and sex assault victims SHOULDN'T get anonymity, says leading barrister
">Barbara Hewson is a barrister at Hardwicke chambers in London
>She described Operation Yewtree arrests as a 'grotesque spectacle'
>Claimed disgraced Stuart Hall's crimes were 'low level misdemeanors'
>NSPCC said her 'outdated and simply ill-informed' views 'beggars belief'
Top barrister Barbara Hewson has claimed the age of consent should be lowered to 13 to protect older men in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex scandal
The age of consent for sex should be lowered to 13-years-old in a bid to end the 'persecution of old men' in the wake of the Savile sex abuse scandal, a top female barrister has argued.
Lawyer Barbara Hewson described the arrests of celebrities such as Rolf Harris, Dave Lee Travis, Jim Davidson and PR guru Max Clifford under Operation Yewtree as a 'grotesque spectacle' adding it had 'nothing to do with justice or the public interest'.
Ms Hewson, a barrister at Hardwicke chambers in London, described the crimes committed by disgraced broadcaster Stuart Hall as 'low level misdemeanours' which would not normally be prosecuted.
In an article for online magazine Spiked, Ms Hewson, who specialises in reproductive rights, also calls for the end of anonymity for complainants.
Children’s charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said to hear such 'outdated and simply ill-informed' views from a highly-experienced barrister 'beggars belief'.
Her comments come as Scotland Yard runs Operation Yewtree, an investigation split into three inquiries into allegations involving deceased presenter Jimmy Savile, involving Savile and others and those involving just others.
A number of high-profile figures have been arrested under Yewtree such as entertainer Rolf Harris, former pop star Gary Glitter, DJ Dave Lee Travis, comedian Jim Davidson and PR guru Max Clifford. All deny any wrongdoing.
Ms Hewson argues that 'the post-Savile witch-hunting of ageing celebs echoes the Soviet Union' and says that it is not difficult to see why some elderly defendants 'conclude that resistance is useless'."
Top human rights barrister sparks outrage with call for age of consent to be lowered to 13
Barbara Hewson, Leading Barrister, Says Age Of Consent Should Be 13 And Criticises Operation Yewtree
Wednesday 8 May 2013
Yewtree is destroying the rule of law
"With its emphasis on outcomes over process, the post-Savile witch-hunting of ageing celebs echoes the Soviet Union.
I do not support the persecution of old men. The manipulation of the rule of law by the Savile Inquisition – otherwise known as Operation Yewtree – and its attendant zealots poses a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did.
Now even a deputy speaker of the House of Commons is accused of male rape. This is an unfortunate consequence of the present mania for policing all aspects of personal life under the mantra of ‘child protection’.
We have been here before. England has a long history of do-gooders seeking to stamp out their version of sexual misconduct by force of the criminal law. In the eighteenth century, the quaintly named Society for the Reformation of Manners funded prosecutions of brothels, playwrights and gay men."
Wednesday 8 May 2013
Is this justice, or naming and shaming?
"Every Yewtree arrest generates anti-celeb sneering. But an arrest does not equal guilt, at least not in civilised societies.
Following the arrest of Jimmy Tarbuck on 26 April, it is clear that Operation Yewtree, the operation established to investigate historical allegations of sexual offending against Jimmy Savile and ‘others’, has the potential to be more far reaching than first thought.
The operation was initially established to investigate allegations in three categories: allegations against Savile acting alone; allegations against Savile acting with others; and allegations against ‘others’. This third category has led to the arrest of six individuals since November 2011. These have included William De’Ath, a former BBC producer, although the police have since announced that no further charges will be brought against him. On 19 April, it was revealed that last year Rolf Harris had been arrested and interviewed in relation to the third category of offending. Operation Yewtree has led to the arrest of 13 men in all. Two have been charged: PR agent Max Clifford, and ex-BBC driver David Smith."
Monday 29 April 2013
After Savile: policing as entertainment
"Operation Yewtree isn’t about solving crime – it’s more like a reality TV format where the police’s aim is to thrill the paedo-fearing public."
Savile inquiry shows that sometimes, there can be smoke without fire
Is questioning tweeting teens or investigating historical crimes the best use of police time?
May 9, 2013
The Family Liaison Officer
"Not just Police forces, foreign and home grown, he criticises anyone who dares to comment on where his methods are taking our long established legal system. He demands their censure.
What has sparked his censure of this respected barrister?
She has long been pointing out the dangers present in our Family courts which have adopted a ‘therapeutic jurisprudence’ approach, resulting in the restriction of the right to due process, the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, the right to be tried in public, the right to confront one’s accusers, and the right to ‘equality of arms’ (that is, not to be tried under significantly less advantageous conditions that those enjoyed by one’s opponent). Other protections, such as restrictions on the use of hearsay evidence, the right to consult the expert of one’s choice, and even the right to communicate in confidence with one’s lawyers or one’s MP, have been placed in second place to the sense that ‘neutral professionals’ were working in the best interests of the child and should not be hampered by outdated technicalities.
Those who have seen their families rent asunder, new born babies snatched from their Mother’s arms following allegations by those ‘neutral professionals’ made in secret courts, or seen loved ones secretly deprived of their liberty by the Court of Protection, have long hailed her a heroine. She is an expert in the field. Yesterday she penned a cogent and well argued article pointing out that this therapeutic jurisprudence was being applied to the field of historic sex abuse. She criticised the methods that those involved with the current Yewtree investigation – which of course includes Mark Williams-Thomas, are using. She pointed out the inherent dangers to our legal system.
Within hours the Press Officer for the NSPCC was demanding that her article be either reworded or removed. They threatened to ‘approach news desks’ (what with, we know not!). Other commenters were more graphic, calling for her ‘to be raped’ and ‘hunted into obscurity’. It is heretical to call into question the methods by which the modern moral crusaders attempt to define abuse. Williams-Thomas himself called for her professional body to intervene – because she called for debate on where this new mode of justice is taking us?
I am reminded for some reason of Henry VIII. He was hugely critical of the Catholic church when they refused to reform themselves in line with his demands. He because hysterical with those who criticised him, denouncing them as heretics, demanding their heads roll, or sacking their homes and churches, as he rebuilt a ‘new’ church of which he was head, that developed new beliefs and rules and regulations.
However, it would be unfair to draw a comparison between the majestic figure of Henry VIII and Williams-Thomas; after all, he was but a pathological egotist whose only interest was in having his own way, achieving his own ends. He had no empathy with those whose lives he ruined along the way."
Saturday, 11 May, 2013
Hail, an improbable age of consent heroine!
"Heroes, or heroines, do not come much more improbable than lawyer Barbara Hewson. Who would have thought that this champion of women’s rights, with a reputation to protect as a successful, high-profile advocate in leading cases, would suddenly throw caution to the winds and call very publicly for the age of consent to be lowered to 13, as she has done this week?
It’s a British story, and it has been all over the media here, replete with predictable reactions, including “shock” at the large London law firm where she is one of many barristers, who are all self-employed members of the “chambers”, or law practice team. It all kicked off with an article by Hewson in the lively libertarian online journal Spiked, to which sociologist Frank Furedi is a regular contributor: see After Savile: Policing as entertainment, mentioned here recently."
Vested Interests ...
9th May 2013
Statement from Hardwicke Chambers
"We are shocked by the views expressed in Barbara Hewson’s article in Spiked (8 May 2013).
We did not see or approve the article pre-publication and we completely dissociate ourselves from its content and any related views she may have expressed via social media or any other media outlets."
PUBLISHED: 19:03, 8 May 2013 | UPDATED: 12:45, 9 May 2013
Legal chambers' 'shock' after human rights lawyer calls for age of consent to be lowered to 13 and an end to the 'persecution of old men' in wake of the Savile scandal
FleetStreetFox on why Barbara Hewson is wrong and lowering the age of consent is never the answer
10th May 2013
NO EXCUSE FOR SICKOS [sic]
"But there’s nothing wrong with sparking a debate about the subject.
The age limit of 16 we have in the UK is by no means universal.
In France it’s 15. It’s 14 in Austria. And it’s 13 in Spain.
None of these countries is a cesspit of immorality because of it.
In fact, it’s the UK that has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe.
By all means, let’s have the debate.
After all, we are a democracy. Not the Soviet Union."
Age Of Consent Lowered To 13? Why Is Barbara Hewson Defending Pedophiles? [sic]
Barbara Hewson Says She Has Been Threatened Online After Controversial Article
Why did Barbara Hewson choose now to enter the debate so controversially?
Don't pity the predators [sic] - protect [sic] their victims [sic]
09. May. 2013. – 12:46:57
ONLY A MISDEMEANOUR
"The paragraph above was copied from the “about” page of "Spiked”. It states very clearly its opinion of those who disagree with its philosophy. It manages to place Karl Marx in opposition to the single person who took to its natural extent the principles he expounded."
Surely you are aware, of the sentencing guidelines etc, for the whole range of 'sexual offences'?
... and that misdemeanour=***summary***/either-way offence/caution.
How can Ms Hewson be incorrect?
Many of your other arguments, are at least debatable/non sequiturs, but this will do, for now.
10. May. 2013. @ 10:22:07
"As far as I am aware there is no longer a classification of "misdemeanour" in English law. The term is current in the American legal system. Therefore I use the word in its colloquial sense, "any minor offence or transgression" "
Indeed, we have provided, what 'we' (at least, Ms Hewson, as a barrister) mean, by the term, today.
In the 'colloquial sense' (almost always dangerous and misleading), such actions are 'minor offences or transgressions', in the scheme of things, as evidenced by legality and sentencing.
Remember, that such actions have to be objectively-decided, as 'sexual' (SOA 2003), and sometimes they will not be, thus, not even against the law.
PUBLISHED: 22:14, 15 May 2013 | UPDATED: 00:32, 16 May 2013
Celebrities in the dock and the affair with a teacher that makes me queasy about always blaming the older man
"'I had just turned 16 and never had a proper boyfriend'
The moment I confessed to my geography teacher that I loved him will forever be etched on my mind.
I'd stood, for about an hour, in the corridor outside his office, plucking up the courage to knock on the door and reveal the full intensity of my feelings.
In truth, I had no idea how he would reciprocate. He'd been teaching me for several months since I'd joined the sixth form of a private school for my A-levels - having done spectacularly badly in my exams the year before at another school where we lived in Somerset.
From the first day of term when I walked into his form room and clocked his age (mid-30s) and slightly dishevelled hair, I had felt the unmistakable stirrings of teenage lust.""