Outrage Over Call for Age of Consent to Be 13

by VR Sreeraman on Sep 23 2009 6:33 PM

The BBC has caused outrage after it allowed a leading academic to demand the age of consent be lowered to 13 on its show.

Professor John Spencer stated on a BBC Radio Four programme that all teenagers should be free to have sex, and even argued that the current age of consent of 16 has turned half the population into criminals.

Ed Stourton, who had been fronting Radio Four's Today programme until a few weeks ago, is presenting the show Iconoclasts.

Spencer, who is a professor of law at Selwyn College, Cambridge, has been an outspoken critic of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which sets the age of consent at 16, and has called the legislation "exceptionally heavy-handed".

But critics have condemned his views and warned they could play into the hands of paedophiles.

"The proposition that the age of consent should be lowered is appalling," the Sun quoted former Tory Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe as saying.

"The situation is bad enough at the moment with high rates of teenage pregnancies and sexual diseases," she said.

Conservative MP David Davies said: "I'm astounded that the BBC is giving airtime to someone with such views."

But a BBC spokesman has said that it is not supporting the issue.

"The programme does not advocate the issue. It is a starting point for serious debate," he added.