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Call to lower consent age to 13

Child protection charities have criticised a leading barrister who argued that the age of consent for sex should be lowered to 13 in a bid to end the "persecution of old men" in the wake of the Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall sex abuse scandals.

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NSPCC: Barrister's age of consent view 'beggars belief'

The NSPCC has said that a leading barrister's call for the age of consent to be lowered in a bid to end the "persecution of old men" in the wake of the Savile scandal "beggars belief".

Barbara Hewson also argued that crimes committed by disgraced broadcaster Stuart Hall were "low level misdemeanours" and called for an end to anonymity complainants.

These outdated and simply ill-informed views would be shocking to hear from anyone but to hear them from a highly experienced barrister simply beggars belief.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. Thankfully the law, and most people, are very clear on this matter.

To minimise and trivialise the impact of these offences for victims in this way is all but denying that they have in fact suffered abuse at all. Any suggestion of lowering the age of consent could put more young people at risk from those who prey on vulnerable young people.

And we must strongly defend the right for victims to remain anonymous and to ask for justice no matter when they choose to come forward.

– Peter Watt, director of the NSPCC helpline

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