Top barrister slams ‘delicate Oxford flowers’ as uni’s law faculty gives ‘trigger warnings’ before lectures about violent cases

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By Alex Aldridge on

Students can leave if content is too distressing


A leading criminal barrister has taken aim at Oxford University law students after it emerged that they were being officially notified ahead of potentially distressing lectures about rape and sexual assault.

The “trigger warnings” have been suggested by the law faculty’s director of studies, with lecturers told to “bear in mind” bracing students for upsetting cases they might be about to study — and give them the option to leave if necessary.

Today an unnamed Oxford student was quoted in the Mail on Sunday as confirming that the warnings are being implemented, commenting:

Before the lectures on sexual offences — which included issues such as rape and sexual assault — we were warned that the content could be distressing, and were then given the opportunity to leave if we needed to.

This riled Pump Court Chambers’ Matthew Scott (pictured) as he took to social media this afternoon to label the students as “Delicate Oxford flowers”.


The barrister — who is one of the most followed UK lawyers on Twitter thanks to his regular blogging and media appearances — continued:

Being high-fliers, perhaps they thought that law was just about the Leasehold Enfranchisement Reform Act 1967.

Scott, whose chambers website describes him as “a specialist criminal advocate with considerable expertise in defending allegations of rape and child cruelty”, clearly believes that cosseted millennials need to toughen up.

It seems that that the Pump Court man has an ally in Oxford law lecturer Professor Laura Hoyano. Last week The Tab reported that Hoyano delivered her own tongue-in-cheek trigger warning, as she warned students “from a farming family” that she intended to discuss a case about foot and mouth.

And today she told the Mail on Sunday:

We can’t remove sexual offences from the criminal law syllabus — obviously. If you’re going to study law, you have to deal with things that are difficult.

Oxford University has issued this statement:

The university aims to encourage independent and critical thinking and does not, as a rule, seek to protect students from ideas or material they may find uncomfortable. However, there may be occasions when a lecturer feels it is appropriate to advise students of potentially distressing subject matter.