A barrister has sparked outrage after calling for the age of consent for sex to be lowered to 13 – to end the 'persecution of old men' in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.
Barbara Hewson, who specialises in reproductive rights, criticises 'the post-Savile witch-hunting of ageing celebs'.
She also claimed that crimes committed by disgraced broadcaster Stuart Hall were 'low level misdemeanours'. The former It's a Knockout presenter has admitted 14 charges of indecently assaulting girls, including one aged nine.
The barrister made her comments in an interview with the magazine, Spiked.
She wrote: "It's time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest. Adults and law-enforcement agencies must stop fetishising victimhood. Instead, 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.
"As for law reform, now regrettably necessary, my recommendations are: remove complainant anonymity; introduce a strict statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions and civil actions; and reduce the age of consent to 13."
Her legal chambers immeidiately distanced itself from Ms Hewson, saying: "We are shocked by the views expressed in Barbara Hewson's article in Spiked.
"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."
Children's charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said to hear such 'outdated and simply ill-informed' views from a highly-experienced barrister 'beggars belief'.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, claims 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 argued that 'the post-Savile witch-hunting of ageing celebs echoes the Soviet Union' and said it is not difficult to see why some elderly defendants 'conclude that resistance is useless'.
She added: "But the low-level misdemeanours with which Stuart Hall was charged are nothing like serious crime."
Ms Hewson continued: "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."
The barrister went on: "It's time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest."
Ms Hewson argued 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' are not comparable to cases such as the Ealing Vicarage rape or Fordingbridge gang rape and murders from 1986. "Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality."
And Ms Hewson labelled charities like the NSPCC and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) as 'moral crusaders' and 'do-gooders' who have infiltrated Yewtree.
Peter Watt, director of the NSPCC helpline, said: "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."
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