Uproar may deter sex complaints, says Hewson

EXAGGERATED reports that pupillages are regularly offered in return for sex may deter women from becoming barristers, warns the barrister whose harassment claims sparked off a media furore.

Barbara Hewson, chair of the Association of Women Barristers, has joined forces with Bar Council chair Peter Goldsmith to play down the extent to which traineeships are offered for sex.

She says damaging media reports that pupillages are “regularly” promised in exchange for sex were a distortion of her article on harassment in the 5 May issue of the New Law Journal.

“Both Peter Goldsmith and I were very upset because we felt the reports might put talented young women off applying for pupillages.

“The situation is improving and there is much greater awareness of the issue.”

Hewson is shell-shocked by the media frenzy that followed her article in which she stated “a number of CLE students” had been promised pupillages in return for sexual favours.

One personal attack in The Sunday Telegraph has prompted her to threaten legal action.

But she maintains examples of harassment in her original article were given to her by reputable sources – despite Goldsmith's assertion her claims on the offer of pupillages for sex was based on second-hand knowledge.

“I would not dream of publishing mere Bar gossip in a serious article in a respectable legal journal,” she says.