Experienced barrister says age of consent should be 13

A barrister is under investigation after publishing an article in which she recommends lowering the age of consent to 13.

Barbara Hewson called for an end to the “persecution of old men” and the start of training girls not to get into “compromising situations”.

She made the controversial recommendation in online magazine Spiked, in the wake of recent high-profile arrests over allegations of historic sexual offences.

Abuse

She is now facing an internal investigation at Hardwicke, the legal chambers where she works.

Several children’s and abuse victim charities have roundly criticised the remarks.

Barbara Hewson said: “Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt, are not remotely comparable to the horrors of the Ealing Vicarage assaults and gang rape, or the Fordingbridge gang rape and murders, both dating from 1986.”

Reality

“Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.”

She also suggested complainants should no longer receive anonymity.

She said, “we should focus on arming today’s youngsters with the savoir-faire and social skills to avoid drifting into compromising situations, and prosecute modern crime”.

Outdated

Peter Watt, director of the NSPCC helpline, called her views “outdated and simply ill-informed” and said that “to hear them from a highly experienced barrister simply beggars belief”.

In a statement, Hardwicke said they were “shocked” at Barbara Hewson’s remarks, and disassociate themselves from the article.

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