Barbara Hewson

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Barbara Hewson
NationalityIrish
Alma materTrinity Hall, University of Cambridge
OccupationBarrister; writer

Barbara Hewson is an Irish barrister with a practice in public law. Hewson specialises in Court of Protection work, human rights, judicial review, and regulatory defence cases. She is interested in reproductive health and the rights of pregnant women, the mentally incapacitated and the mentally ill.

Practice profile[edit]

Hewson has appeared in a number of high-profile cases. In the 1990s, she campaigned against court-ordered treatment of pregnant women, claiming that family courts were depriving women of fundamental rights to personal autonomy and to a fair trial.

She was critical of the Court of Appeal's ruling in the case of Jodie and Mary, the Maltese conjoined twins, in 2002, and acted for pro-life campaigner Bruno Quintavalle in an unsuccessful bid to stop the twins' separation.[1]

In Ireland, she appeared in a number of cases in the Four Courts in Dublin, notably concerning the home birth midwife Ann Kelly during 1997-2000, but also vulnerable adults.[2][3][4][5]

In 2010, she acted for the family of David Gray at the inquest into Mr Gray's death following an overdose of Diamorphine, administered by locum German doctor Daniel Ubani, who had been recruited by Take Care Now. Coroner William Morris gave a verdict of gross negligence manslaughter, and made 11 Recommendations to the Department of Health to improve out-of-hours GP services.[6] The Times profiled Hewson as its Lawyer of the Week on 11 February 2010.[7]

She was named as a Band 1 Junior for Court of Protection - Health & Welfare in Chambers Legal Directory (2015). The Legal 500 (2014) called her a "leading junior" in the fields of Administrative Law, Civil Liberties, and Disciplinary Law.[citation needed]

Affiliations[edit]

She has been a trustee of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service since 2007. She was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Westminster in 2012.

Hewson was a founder-member of the Association of Women Barristers (AWB) in 1991.[8] The same year, Hewson was elected to the Bar Council of England & Wales. As Press Officer for the AWB, she became known for commenting on a range of issues concerning women and the law in national media.

Views[edit]

Hewson has long been opposed to state paternalism in the field of medical decision-making, and strongly supports patient autonomy.[9] She is a supporter of abortion rights for women,[10][11] and of women's rights in childbirth. She has argued that abortion should be removed from the criminal law.[12] She is a critic of Operation Yewtree.[13]

Controversies[edit]

2013[edit]

Hewson was involved in controversy in 2013, after the NSPCC's Press Officer strongly urged her to remove or reword an article she had written for Spiked Online on 8 May entitled "Yewtree is Destroying the Rule of Law,"[14] a few hours after it was published. Her article criticised the role of the NSPCC (which she called a "moral crusader") and the Metropolitan Police in treating complainants as "victims" in the wake of the Savile scandal, and the proliferation of prosecutions of elderly defendants. She had noted that the crimes of Stuart Hall (who had pleaded guilty to numerous charges of indecent assault) constituted misdemeanour offences, as opposed to crimes like rape and murder. She had proposed that there be a statute of limitations for criminal sex offences; that complainant anonymity be removed, and that the age of consent, which was raised by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1885 should be changed back to the previous age of thirteen.

Hewson rejected the NSPCC's demand, citing Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The NSPCC then said it would take this to news desks. The NSPCC proceeded to attack Hewson publicly for her views, calling them "out-dated and simply ill-informed." Hewson then experienced a media storm. On the evening of 8 May 2013, her then chambers Hardwicke issued a statement proclaiming the set "shocked" by her Yewtree article for spiked.[15]

Hewson stood by her article, invoking Voltaire.[16] She received menacing messages via social media,[17] but also many messages of support via e-mail and bloggers, concerned by Operation Yewtree and supporting the principle of free speech.[18][19] Brendan O'Neill, editor of Spiked Online, spoke out in Hewson's defence on BBC's Radio 5, saying "I published it because it's a fantastic article."[citation needed]

On 12 May 2013, the Irish Independent's columnist Eilis O'Hanlon commented: "The vehemence of the reaction against Barbara Hewson demonstrates that she was certainly right to compare the public mood around this issue to a witch-hunt, since it is in the nature of witch-hunts to not only shout down opposition, but also to attack what you think someone said, or what you wish they'd said, rather than what they did say."[20]

The sociologist Frank Furedi claimed that Hewson had been "morally lynched" for expressing political opinions, and accused the NSPCC of "moral blackmail."[21] Rod Liddle then criticised the NSPCC and Hardwicke in an article for The Spectator.[22]

Hewson was profiled in The Times' Law Section on 26 September 2013.[23]

On 25 October 2013, Hewson was one of 100 women invited by the BBC to a unique day of debate and discussion about women's role in society.[24]

On 30 October 2013, she debated the proposition "Is Rape Different?" at the LSE with Reader in Law Helen Reece, Professor Jennifer Temkin and Crown Prosecutor Nazir Afzal, arguing that women should resist special treatment in such cases on equality grounds.[25][26] Some feminist academics later attacked Hewson's and Reece's role in the debate.[27][28] Their reaction was criticised by the Law Editor of spiked, who had attended the debate.[29] Hewson then wrote an article for spiked amplifying her views.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A (Children), Re [2000] EWCA Civ 401". 3 November 2000. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  2. ^ "O'Ceallaigh v. Fitness To Practice Committee [1998] IESC 60; [1999] 2 IR 552". 11 December 1998. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  3. ^ "An Bord Altranais v. O'Ceallaigh [2000] IESC 21; [2000] 4 IR 54; [2000] 4 IR 102". 17 May 2000. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  4. ^ "K. (P.), Re. [2001] IESC 3". 19 January 2001. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  5. ^ "K.(C.) v. Northern Area Health Board & Ors [2003] IESC 34". 29 May 2003. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  6. ^ Meikle, James; Campbell, Denis (4 February 2010). "Doctor Daniel Ubani unlawfully killed overdose patient". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  7. ^ Tsang, Linda (11 February 2010). "Lawyer of the week: Barbara Hewson". The Times. London.
  8. ^ "Association of Women Barristers". Womenbarristers.com. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  9. ^ "LM 115: Could the High Court order you to have an operation?". Archived from the original on 11 March 2000. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  10. ^ Hewson, B. (2001). "Reproductive autonomy and the ethics of abortion". Journal of Medical Ethics. 27: ii10–ii14. doi:10.1136/jme.27.suppl_2.ii10.
  11. ^ "Legal Profession News | Latest Updates for Legal Professionals". Solicitorsjournal.com. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Abortion Should Be Removed From Criminal Law". The Huffington Post UK. 2012-10-18. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Age of consent should be 13, says barrister". BBC News. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  14. ^ "Yewtree is destroying the rule of law". Spiked Online. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Statement from Hardwicke" (Press release). Hardwicke Chambers. 8 May 2013. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  16. ^ Hough, Andrew (9 May 2013). "Allow legal sex at 13 to stop 'old men abuse persecutions', says barrister". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  17. ^ Peter. "The Blog That Peter Wrote". pme2013.blogspot.co.uk. Archived from the original on 30 June 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Barbara Hewson is wrong. She must be defended". Barrister Blogger. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  19. ^ Mic. "Barbara Hewson: 'Innocent Until Proven Guilty' Applies to Suspected Pedophiles Too". Mic. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  20. ^ O'Hanlon, Eilis (12 May 2013). "'Witch-hunt' has elements of guilty 'til proven innocent". Irish Independent. Dublin. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  21. ^ Furedi, Frank (13 May 2013). "The moral lynching of Barbara Hewson". Spiked Online. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  22. ^ Liddle, Rod (18 May 2013). "Back off, Mencap – let idiot councillors express their idiot opinions if they want to". The Spectator. London. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  23. ^ Frances Gibb (26 September 2013). "Historical sex abuse cases have been 'hijacked by crusaders'". The Times. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  24. ^ "100 Women: Who took part? - BBC News". BBC News. Bbc.co.uk. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  25. ^ "2013 Barbara Hewson Rape Hysteria from Victorianism to Feminism". YouTube. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  26. ^ "Public lectures and events: media player - Public lectures and events - Channels - Video and audio - News and media - Home". Lse.ac.uk. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  27. ^ Editors, The (28 May 2015). "Editorial: A Response to the LSE Event "Is Rape Different?" | Editors | feminists@law". Feminists@law. 3 (2). Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  28. ^ "Rape is Different: Academic Impact Sinks to New Lows". Criticallegalthinking.com. 2013-11-15. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  29. ^ "We must be free to question rape laws". Spiked-online.com. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  30. ^ "Believe the victim: a recipe for injustice". Spiked-online.com. Retrieved 11 June 2015.

External links[edit]