UK

Stuart Hall Sentence For Indecent Assaults 'Unduly Lenient', Says Shadow Attorney General

17/06/2013 17:53 BST | Updated 17/06/2013 18:13 BST

The shadow attorney general has written to Dominic Grieve following TV presenter Stuart Hall's 15-month sentence for sexual assault.

Emily Thornberry claim that the sentence handed down to the 83-year-old was unduly lenient and urged the Attorney General to refer it to the Court of Appeal.

stuart hall

Stuart Hall pleaded guilty to 14 charges of indecent assault against 13 girls

She said: "This sentence surely cannot be strong enough for the seriousness and circumstances of the crime.

"Sexual assault is in itself a very serious offence and there were many aggravating factors present in this case: the victims were young; there was pattern of behaviour over a long period of time; there was an abuse of trust; and, as the trial judge has said, Hall's initial response to the charges will have compounded the victims' distress.

"Given all this, 15 months is not just a lenient sentence, it is unduly lenient."

She also called for Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer to formally to refer the case to the Attorney General.

Hall was sentenced on Monday after admitting 14 counts of indecent assault against girls as young as nine.

A number of Twitter users took to the microblogging site to express their disgust at the length of sentence handed down to Hall.

Among them was deputy leader of the Labour party Harriet Harman, who tweeted: "18 yrs offending & Stuart hall gets less than 18 months. Unduly Lenient Sentence. Attorney General must refer sentence to Court of Appeal."

Her Labour party colleague, shadow crime and security minister Diana Johnson, is one of a number of complainants who have written to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve asking him to review the sentence as it is "unduly lenient and not in the public interest".

She wrote: "These offences were committed on children aged between nine and 16.

"These children have lived through the trauma of having endured these offences, they will have lived with the after effects, which are likely to have been considerable, and now they have had to go through a trial which is likely to have been extremely distressing.

"It is these victims, who were all children when the offences were committed, who should be foremost in our consideration."

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the child protection charity NSPCC, said: "Hall will be free within months, but the trauma he caused his victims will stay with them a lot longer - possibly for the rest of their lives. He has shown total disregard for their feelings, even arrogantly branding them liars.

"Whilst it's commendable that this case was pursued even after such a long passage of time, the end result is not a great day for justice or for the victims."

Following sentencing the BBC said in a statement: "The BBC is appalled that some of Stuart Hall's crimes took place in connection with his work at the BBC and offer an unreserved apology to the people he abused."

A detailed investigation into Hall's conduct at the BBC is being carried out by Dame Linda Dobbs.