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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Boy challenges young sex laws
High Court, London
The case was heard at the High Court in London
A boy who had underage sex with a consenting 15-year-old girl has won the right to challenge the law under which he was found guilty.

The youth, who comes from the Llandudno area of north Wales and cannot be named for legal reasons, was also 15 at the time.

Speaking at the High Court, his counsel claimed there was a discrepancy between British law and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Gareth Roberts argued it was unfair that a boy "becomes a criminal" after consensual sex with a girl under 16, while she becomes a victim.

On Friday, Lord Justice Maurice Kay ruled the challenge should go to a full hearing.

"I take the view there is at least an arguable possibility of incompatibility between the 1956 Sexual Offences Act and Articles 14 and 8 of the convention," he said.

The most that can happen was that the declaration would be made and Parliament might change the law
Lord Justice Maurice Kay

Article 8 protects the right to privacy, while Article 14 prohibits discrimination.

However, the teenager can only hope for a pardon, as his conviction, imposed by Llandudno magistrates last August, will not be quashed.

If the appeal is successful, the court would only be able to make a declaration of incompatibilty between the Sexual Offences Act and the European Human Rights convention.

The case would then go to Parliament to decide whether the law should be changed.

Lord Kay said there was no doubt that unlawful sexual intercourse had taken place in the incident in December 2002.

He said it was now argued that the prosecution of the teenager was discriminatory and had breached his human rights because the law "criminalises a boy under 16 and not the girl in relation to an act of consensual sexual intercourse."

"The most that can happen was that the declaration would be made and Parliament might change the law," he said.


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