Patricia Hewitt

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Patricia Hewitt

Patricia Hope Hewitt (born 2 December 1948) is an Australian-born British government adviser and former politician who served as Secretary of State for Health from 2005 to 2007. A member of the Labour Party, she previously served as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from 2001 to 2005.



  • Our proposal that the age of consent be reduced is based on the belief that neither the police nor the criminal courts should have the power to intervene in a consenting sexual activity between two young people. It is clearly the case that a number of young people are capable of consenting to sexual activity and already do so.
    • Letter (April 1976) to a housemaster at St Paul's Boys School, London, reproduced in "Patricia Hewitt backed NCCL policy of lowering age of consent" The Guardian (28 February 2014). Hewitt was then the general secretary of the National Council for Civil Liberties. A March 1976 press release from the pressure group, with Hewitt's name on it, had stated: "NCCL proposes that the age of consent should be lowered to 14, with special provision for situations where the partners are close in age, or where consent of a child over ten can be proved."


  • Any suggestion that I supported or condoned the vile crimes of child abusers is completely untrue. When Jack Dromey, as NCCL chairman in 1976, vigorously opposed PIE at the NCCL AGM, he did so with the full support of the Executive Committee and myself as general secretary. As the NCCL archives demonstrate, I consistently distinguished between consenting relationships between homosexual men, on the one hand, and the abuse of children on the other.
    NCCL in the 1970s, along with many others, was naive and wrong to accept PIE's claim to be a 'campaigning and counselling organisation' that 'does not promote unlawful acts'. As General Secretary then, I take responsibility for the mistakes we made. I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so. I should have urged the Executive Committee to take stronger measures to protect NCCL's integrity from the activities of PIE members and sympathisers and I deeply regret not having done so. ...

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