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Barbara Hewson, Leading Barrister, Says Age Of Consent Should Be 13 And Criticises Operation Yewtree

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A leading barrister has called for the age of consent to be lowered to 13 while claiming Operation Yewtree is a "far graver threat" to society than Jimmy Savile.

Barbara Hewson claimed the "witch-hunt" against ageing celebrities echoed the Soviet Union.

She said the "low-level misdemeanours" Stuart Hall was charged with were "nothing like serious crime" and said the police and society were "fetishising victimhood".

MORE: 'Now somebody wants me raped': Twitter Abuse For Barbara Hewson After Article

Hewson, a barrister at Hardwicke in London, said complainants in sexual offences should no longer be anonymous.

Hardwicke distanced itself from her views while the NSPCC said her article "beggars belief".

"I do not support the persecution of old men," she wrote in an article for the Spiked website.

"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."

Turning to the arrest of Nigel Evans at the weekend, she wrote: "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’."

Hewson drew parallels with the prosecution of brothels and gay men in the 18th century, adding: "Taking girls to one’s dressing room, bottom pinching and groping in cars hardly rank in the annals of depravity with flogging and rape in padded rooms.

"Yet the Victorian narrative of innocents despoiled by nasty men endures."

She attacked "moral crusaders" like the NSPCC and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).

And on Hall, who has admitted indecent assault against 13 girls, she added: "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. Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.0

"Ordinarily, Hall’s misdemeanors 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."

In a statement, Hardwicke Chambers said it was "shocked" by her views.

"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."

Peter Watt, director of the NSPCC helpline, told The Times: “These outdated and simply ill-informed views would be shocking to hear from anyone but to hear them from a highly experienced barrister simply 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.”