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Controversial barrister suspended for two years over ‘obscene’ tweets

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Barbara Hewson banned from practice over foul-mouthed social media posts

A controversial barrister has been suspended for two years for “obscene” and “abusive” language on social media.

Barbara Hewson, formerly of 1 Gray’s Inn Square, was found by a disciplinary tribunal to have breached professional misconduct rules in her tweeting and blogging.

A Bar Standards Board (BSB) spokesperson said that the decision “demonstrates the serious consequences that can arise from such offensive and abusive behaviour online”.

Hewson, a civil liberties and public law specialist, has long courted controversy with her views on child sexual abuse and confrontational manner in expressing them. In a 2013 blog post, she called the Operation Yewtree investigation into historic sex offences “a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did”.

Her social media activity has drawn attention for many years. In 2015, Legal Cheek reported several examples of tweets sent from Hewson’s Twitter account telling people to “grow up you cunt” and “get off my tits, you cunts”.

Hewson has engaged in a particularly heated online dispute with family barrister Sarah Phillimore, initially about child protection issues but which quickly turned personal. Phillimore went to the police in 2017 and lodged several complaints with the BSB.

The police subsequently issued Hewson with a Prevention of Harassment Letter, which she unsuccessfully challenged by way of judicial review. However, she did secure libel damages from the Mail Online after the website accepted that it had incorrectly reported the allegations about her.

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Phillimore has said that Hewson’s past behaviour included telling her “fuck off” and calling her a “nasty C**t” and “continually making references to my daughter when she knows full well that her tweets are ‘liked’ and ‘retweeted’ by at least one convicted and unrepentant paedophile”.

The BSB has not published any details of what exactly led to the suspension, referring only to “a series of tweets between 2017 and 2019” and a recent blog post. These, it said, were:

“Seriously offensive, abusive and publicly disparaging towards another barrister, including some which were directed at that barrister’s competence and reputation; obscene or seriously offensive in terms of the language used; and disparaging of the BSB’s regulatory process thereby undermining public trust and confidence in that process and thus in the profession.”

Phillimore tweeted: “I hope she uses the time to reflect and can return to practice and do some good. She’s done precious little these last four years”.

A BSB spokesperson said:

“As the tribunal found, and Ms Hewson accepted, a barrister’s actions on social media can diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in individual barristers and the profession. The tribunal’s decision to suspend her from practice for two years demonstrates the serious consequences that can arise from such offensive and abusive behaviour online.”

The tribunal’s decision is open to appeal.

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23 Comments

Mexit

Next up, Jolyon Maugham please.

(48)(11)

2+2=5

Particularly his moronic tweets that transwomen should play sports against biological women.

(32)(17)

Anonymous

Letting men who decide to become women play women’s sport is a disgrace. Biological women do not have the frame or bulk of a biological man.

(35)(12)

Orwellian

A recent study has shown that even after hormone treatment, transwomen still retain overwhelming physical advantages. There is minimal to zero difference in their strength after lowering their testosterone levels.

The sad thing is that mainstream feminists support the idea of transwomen playing in female sports. Anyone who disagrees is labelled a “TERF”. It’s not just biological men erasing women spaces.

(22)(14)

XX

Wow, the amount of downvotes just show how many people don’t believe in biological reality. Scary. Men have been oppressing women for thousands of years. Now fellow women are doing it to themselves.

Zan

What about Angler Merkle? Dianne Abbott?

(0)(1)

Ciaran Goggins

I am flying the flag for Barbara here, post Operation Midland she is one of the few not myopic enough to see that we need anonymity pre-charging.

(17)(10)

A

BSB moral police silencing those that do not conform again.

(16)(11)

Anonymous

Taking away someone’s livelihood over social media posts feels wrong and disproportionate. This has happened a few times recently. Is calling someone a “cunt” worthy of such treatment? Especially in a profession that is rammed full of them.

(35)(11)

Anon

Would you feel the same if they directed that word on Twitter towards your wife or children?

(10)(10)

A

People “affected” by something as superficial as a rude tweet are oversensitive. Neither the criminal law nor professional bodies should waste any time on such matters.

(13)(4)

Anon

Yeah, we’re totally being ‘over sensitive’ when Anjam Chaudhury and his fellow militants are being ‘rude’ about Westerners in their mosque speeches.

We’re total snowflakes who can’t handle ‘free speech’.

Dare you to call your boss a ‘cunt’ tomorrow and then say she’s being ‘over sensitive’

(16)(2)

Anonymous

Foment violence and slagging someone off are materially different.

Ciaran Goggins

I need my safe space! You said hurty words! Mommy, call the cops.

Anon

I can’t believe this needs to be pointed out to you but calling someone a cunt on Twitter and advocating killing people, in the name of a non-existent bearded fella in the sky, are substantially different

Zan

She put herself out there to be eaten by the sharks. She should have just joined the other c*nt* lol

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Waste of everyone’s time. Incredible that the police and regulators are getting involved over Twitter spats.

(18)(4)

Ciaran Goggins

Beats catching burglars.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Hope she appeals. LC, please keep us updated.

(10)(5)

Bill Garrow

Shocking that she felt obliged to plead guilty. She’s been treated appallingly for defending legal principles that would once have been taken for granted by a legal establishment which has lost its backbone. She’s been hung out to dry by her profession. What on earth are regulators doing interfering in twitter spats?

(22)(3)

Me

The BSB is now overrun by virtue-signalling moral police.

(13)(2)

Archibald Pomp O'City

I think she sounds really cool.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

I think her problem is she criticised/slagged off the BSB. So they naturally put the boot in.

Not a very smart move when they are the alpha and omega of your right to practise.

(4)(0)

Comments are closed.

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