Barrister complains to police and BSB about another barrister’s unacceptable behaviour on Twitter

Barbara Hewson called out for social media etiquette

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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.

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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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46 Comments

Lord Harley of Counsel

As a civil barrister, one thing that Barbara Hewson has brought to my attention is the rarity of expert psychological evidence in the criminal courts about the fallibility (or even falsity) of memory.

In the civil context, we have the judgment of Leggatt J in Gestmin that gives a detailed consideration to these problems and ends with: “Above all, it is important to avoid the fallacy of supposing that, because a witness has confidence in his or her recollection and is honest, evidence based on that recollection provides any reliable guide to the truth.”

It might be that defendants’ representatives aren’t making applications to rely on expert evidence in criminal cases but I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t given its obvious relevance and importance. If it is being regularly refused by the courts then that seems to be a much more concerning feature of sexual abuse cases than even the usual arguments about anonymity and the shifting of the burden of proof etc.

Perhaps there have been reported decisions that I’m not aware of, or perhaps permission to appeal is always refused, but it’s surprising that there isn’t at least one Court of Appeal decision on the issue of permission for expert evidence. If I was accussed of a historic sexual offence with no objective evidence for or against me, it’s the first thing I’d want.

(17)(16)
Anonymous

I hope this is actually you Alan. That you are actually stupid enough to come here and pretend to have legal knowledge.

(9)(15)
"Asking for a Friend"

Did BH bring to your attention anything about the fallibility (or even falsity) of LinkedIn CV’s?

(3)(0)
Anonymous

What as that got to do with Hewson’s conduct on Twitter ?….Answer…..nothing.

(3)(0)
holliegreigjustice

hahaha aye right , how can you be sure…did you remember that

(3)(0)
Anonymous

Barbara Hewson is clearly a staggering moron with the intellect of a gnat and the emotional maturity of a toddler who’s had too much sunny delight.

(44)(22)
Anonymous

Thanks. This comment has really contributed to the debate.

(5)(8)
Anonymous

Both barristers complained to the Police and Regulators about each other.

Both as bad as each other after seeing some of their tweets.

(10)(43)
Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(1)
Anonymous

I am glad I had her Twitter account suspended. And there isn’t a thing she can do about it and it made a lot of people relieved due to continued harassment.

(346)(16)
MW

The BSB are increasingly becoming seen as a lame duck. They will act on train ticket dodgers, but not a practicing barrister who is publicly embarrassing the profession?

When Barbara isn’t threatening to shoot people, she is posting pictures of their children publicly which she sources by googling their name. Several barristers have complained about her, the BSB do nothing.

She isn’t royalty. She’s a below average writer pushing the same vile claims those that wanted paedophilia legalised 30 years ago were.

Ridiculous.

(443)(10)
Frankly

Barristers have Article 10 rights, just like anybody else. The BSB should tread carefully here. Were either of these barristers making these comments in the course of discharging professional duties. I somehow doubt it. Barbara Hewson and or Sarah Phillmore may bring themselves into disrepute- but seriously, how does this bring the profession into disrepute? It doesn’t.

Next.

(14)(68)
Anonymous

Hewson and her ‘Justice for Jimmy Savile’ followers are regular activated by her to attack, humiliate and belittle CSA survivors, their support agencies and legal representatives.

Hewson’s campaign of twitter terror has been unchallenged so far by the BSB, even after many tens if not hundreds of complaints, which have been made to them about Hewson’s disgusting online behaviour.

Twitter stated in a user email which was published and in the public domain that her account was suspend for ‘disruptive purposes’. Hewson then created a new account, in defiance of the suspension, which was swiftly also suspend by twitter – but not after Hewson tweeted to journalist Iain Dale, admitting that she regularly ‘trolled’ an investigative online news server.

The BSB has to act.

(90)(9)
Trumpenkrieg

So because some snowflakes got triggered on a public internet forum, this woman needs to lose her job?

(12)(33)
rabbitaway

Proud to be someone who fights for the rights of all, including the dead. What awful people Barbara Hewson, Moor Larkin and myself are ! Tick that thumbs down box, trolls. The truth cannot be altered, and those who resist the tyranny of the few have already won – in the greater scheme of things !
Look for my blog folks – give yourselves a breath of fresh air.

(10)(810)
Anonymous

705 down votes could be an all time record for Legal Cheek. Congratulations lady. You win at something, at least.

(6)(2)
Anon

You have no idea of the meaning of truth . You hound complainants and accuse them of lying. When you don’t know what went on. There is something badly wrong with you and your vigilantism. Grow some morals rabbit and stop gloating over your hate.

(49)(2)
Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(3)
Anonymous

She’s batshit crazy sorry. Also 32 years call and not a QC. Maybe trying to compensate for what seems like a lack of ability by running her mouth.

(50)(12)
Much older and slightly wiser

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(3)(1)
Anonymous

not bein funny but if you end with ‘end of’ you are a bellend. methinks. lol.

(4)(1)
Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(0)
William Garrow

A great shame Hewson has been driven off Twitter by a witch hunt. She’s got controversial views and the bravery to express them directly. Often she is right. We are all worse off for the suppression of opinions.

(19)(59)
Sunnyclaribel

I wouldn’t call someone who says survivors of horrific sexual abuse coming forward are ‘Mucho Whinging’ and child sex abuse campaigners, who give up their time to help survivors/kids, are the ‘lunatic fringe’, ‘brave’ ……… I’d call it ‘disgusting’. There again, I am a decent human being, who hasn’t spent my evenings ‘tweeting and deleting’ hate/abuse at people who deserve support to get my ‘kicks’.

(93)(11)
Anonymous

It wasn’t a witch hunt. She violated the terms of service INCLUDING running multiple accounts which Twitter considers were for disruptive influence. Surely you’re not suggesting that a barrister needn’t be capable of following contractual obligations, that’s nothing to do with free speech. If I were to buy a house off you and swear at you, target you on a regular basis and then not pay the money agreed could I go to court and call it a witch hunt? Most courts would say no I’d like to believe.

(119)(5)
Silent No More

It is not a witch hunt, nor is the ban a way of suppressing her controversial views. Hewson has the right to those views and there are few who would argue otherwise.It is the continuous and relentless late night tweeting of ever increasing venom and nastiness. That is the problem. The innuendo, the vile suggestions, the taunting and name calling, not just from her,but her group of particularly spiteful and embittered harridans. Hewson is a Human Rights expert. Ironic that she feels entitled to hector, abuse, vilify and harass with no thought to others. Her obsession with ‘ false allegations ‘ has sadly prevented her from seeing that some allegations are in fact true but her need to expose falsehood has resulted in a distasteful Crusade of Venom. As much as I admire her intellect and her reasoning on a professional level, in her private and online dealings she is one of the nastiest and most toxic persons I have encountered. Make no mistake. This is more than mere opinion. It is harassment and a pRticulary nasty kind.

(119)(4)
Anonymous

Silent No More – spot on. This reflects my own view given what I have observed and been told.

(2)(1)
Moor Larkin

Phillimore is an odd one. Despite my being entirely uninterested, she invited me to email her direct for some reason. Then she proceeded to “retweet” at me ad nauseum, for a while. Given the plain divergence in our views I could only conclude she was seeking to intimidate me with her legal status. Nothing doing. https://twitter.com/moor_facts/status/797735606206009344

(12)(96)
TheLolz

BH operates a simple policy that others would do well to replicate: Say in public what you would say in private. Phillimore is typical of the legal profession in adopting the converse position.

Both of these people need to get a life and leave the regulator to deal with real professional misconduct.

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(10)(39)
Not Amused

Thank goodness the police are kept busy investigating rude things people type to each other on Twitter. It would be awful if the poor loves had nothing to do.

(10)(15)
Ciaran Goggins

Hewitt is spot on about false rape claims, indeed as Ched Evans said (cont p.5)

(4)(19)
Much older and slightly wiser

Rather disappointing to see that my measured, factual contribution to the comments section has been removed ostensibly on the basis that it “breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy”.

According to the policy, comments will be removed where they are “defamatory or gratuitously offensive”. There is also the inference that they will be removed if reported but do not satisfy either criteria. In the circumstances, I must assume that Ms Hewson is reporting comments which are not favourable to her cause.

(72)(10)
Anonymous

In my day the head clerks would have a word with each other. Now it’s battles on Twitter.

(4)(0)
Anon

Oh Barbara, you really need to grow up. Hounding people who don’t share your views and trolling them. Are you 12? Is this really what you’ve been reduced to?
You give the Bar a bad name. Bar none.

(57)(2)
Anonymous

Look up Barbara Hewson and LM Network. Makes for some really interesting reading. One can see why the QC is out of reach.

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(23)(3)
Anonymous

This isn’t about freedom of speech, it is about allegations of harassment.

Hewson (or any legal professional, or any member of the public for that matter) should have the right to express controversial opinions – including the opinion that the age of consent should be lowered. She has been vindicated in some of the things she has said, including that the allegations made by ‘Nick’ about a vast ‘VIP’ abuse and murder network are not credible.

She has claimed that when she went public on Channel 4 with her views regarding the age of consent, she was subject to harassment on Twitter. If so, that is wrong. But it does not excuse her behaviour.

BSB, time to act.

(2)(2)

Comments are closed.