09:57 22 September 2009
The BBC provoked controversy on the airwaves again after it allowed a leading academic to demand the age of consent be lowered to 13.
Professor John Spencer, appearing on a BBC Radio 4 programme to be broadcast on the evening of Tuesday September 22, claimed that all teenagers should be free to have sex.
Spencer went on to argue that the current age of consent (16) has turned much of the population into criminals who broke the law as youngsters.
His views are to air on the show 'Iconoclasts' presented by Ed Stourton, one of the BBC's most respected journalists. Until recently, he fronted Radio 4's 'Today' programme.
Spencer, professor of law at Selwyn College, Cambridge, has long been an outspoken critic of the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, calling it "exceptionally heavy-handed".
In response to the radio show, critics last night condemned his views and warned that they could provoke pedophiles.
Former Tory Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe said: "The proposition that the age of consent should be lowered is appalling.
"The situation is bad enough at the moment with high rates of teenage pregnancies and sexual diseases."
Meanwhile Conservative MP David Davies said: "I'm astounded that the BBC is giving airtime to someone with such views."
A BBC spokesman said: "The programme does not advocate the issue. It is a starting point for serious debate."
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