Harriet Ruth Harman QC MP (born 30 July 1950) is a British solicitor and Labour politician who in her earlier years with Liberty, argued for more liberal legislation on child pornography, but eventually became a New Labour party line supporter and anti-prostitution campaigner.
Standing in 2009
In 2009, we copied the following from Wikipedia, documenting her career progress.
- "On 28 June 2007 she was appointed Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Privy Seal and Minister for Women and Equality. On 12 October 2007 she became head of a new UK Government Department, the Government Equalities Office, made up of staff transferred from the already existing Women and Equality unit. She still however retains her title of Minister for Women, bringing her total number of jobs to five.
- Harman's strong feminist views and policies have reportedly made her unpopular with some Labour MPs, and have earned her the moniker Harriet Harperson. She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Camberwell and Peckham since 1997, having previously been MP for Peckham since 1982."
Between 1978 and 1982 Harman was legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), an organisation that supported reducing the Age of Consent to 14 - rejecting abolition only because of public opinion.
- At the time she made the official submission, she was a senior figure in a civil liberties organisation that wanted the age of consent to be lowered to 14 and incest decriminalised. It also defended self-confessed paedophiles in the press and allowed them to attend its meetings. (...) Miss Harman, 58, was a newly qualified solicitor when she became legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties, now known as Liberty, in 1978. At the time its general secretary was Patricia Hewitt, who went on to become health secretary under Tony Blair. Among the groups affiliated to NCCL were the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation, whose members argued openly for the abolition of the age of consent. NCCL complained to the press watchdog about their treatment by tabloid newspapers and said in one article: “We support any organisation that seeks to campaign for anything it wants within the law. They have that right.” In NCCL’s official response to the Government’s plans to reform sex laws, dubbed a “Lolita’s Charter”, it suggested reducing the age of consent and argued that “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage”. It claimed that children can suffer more from having to retell their experiences in court or the press. Amid growing public concern about adults preying on children, the Protection of Children Bill was put before Parliament in order to tighten the laws on child pornography by banning indecent images of under-16s. NCCL’s official response, signed by Miss Harman and submitted in April 1978, claimed that the new law could lead to “damaging and absurd prosecutions” and “increase censorship”. She suggested that a pornographic photo or film of a child should not be considered indecent unless it could be shown that the subject had suffered, and that prosecutors would have to prove harm rather than defendants having to justify themselves. Her submission states: “Although this harm may be of a somewhat speculative nature, where participation falls short of physical assault, it is none-the-less justifiable to restrain activities by photographer which involve placing children under the age of 14 (or, arguably, 16) in sexual situations."
The above background was further brought to light in 2014, leading to far greater scandal:
- The NCCL submitted a document to parliament's Criminal Law Commission in 1976 arguing for the lowering of the age of consent potentially to as young as 10 and for incest to be legalised. This was submitted at a time when Dromey was on the executive and Hewitt was general secretary, and remained the official position when Harman became legal officer two years later in 1978. The document said: "Childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage." It also said it was "logical" but "not politically possible" that the age of consent be abolished altogether, and said therefore that the age of consent should be lowered to 14 – or 10 "provided it is demonstrated that consent was clearly given by the child".