Barbara Hewson called out for social media etiquette
Two barristers are locked in a very public spat after one accused the other of “enthusiastically” encouraging the abuse of an unnamed journalist online.
Sarah Phillimore (pictured top left), who is a tenant at St John’s Chambers in Bristol, and Barbara Hewson (pictured top right), who is a member of 1 Gray’s Inn Square in London, are at loggerheads over Hewson’s social media etiquette.
This according to The Times (£), which reported today that Phillimore has sent a letter to Hewson’s legal representatives complaining about her behaviour on Twitter. The letter stated:
Ms Hewson has enthusiastically encouraged such abuse [of the journalist] over many months and engaged in direct abuse and harassment [herself].
Confirming to Legal Cheek that she has filed complaints with both the police and Bar Standards Board (BSB), Phillimore continued:
I… believe I have clear evidence to support my contention that Ms Hewson’s online activities have serious and potentially criminal ramifications well beyond the issue of publication on Twitter. This is not acceptable behaviour from a practising barrister.
Returning fire, Irish-born Hewson — whose personal Twitter account now appears to have been “suspended” (screenshot below) — told the newspaper:
I object in the strongest possible terms to Ms Phillimore’s brinkmanship, making extraordinarily serious accusations in an unfocused way, without any supporting evidence. I and my legal team will robustly defend any civil or criminal proceedings that she, or any anyone else, initiates against me.
While the identity of the journalist remains a mystery, Legal Cheek understands that the Twitter bust-up and subsequent letter stems from the barristers’ differing views on child abuse cases. The report states that Hewson has also made separate complaints to both the police and the BSB, and has instructed London-based media experts Simons Muirhead & Burton to defend any potential claim.
Responding to today’s report, the BSB told Legal Cheek:
The BSB does not comment as to whether or not individual barristers are the subject of a complaint or a disciplinary investigation. If a complaint is received, or if information about potential misconduct by a barrister comes to our attention, it is dealt with in accordance with the procedures set out in detail on our website.
This isn’t the first time Hewson and her online shenanigans have hit national headlines.
In 2015 the civil law barrister branded the now ex-deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland a “cunt” on Twitter. In another colourful tweet, she called on several of the site’s users to “get off my tits, you cunts.”
The experienced lawyer also received widespread criticism after she called for the age of sexual consent to be lowered to just 13. Penning an article for online magazine Spiked back in 2013, she said the move was necessary to end the “persecution of old men”.
Hewson did not respond to Legal Cheek’s request for comment.
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