Allen: Sexual Offences Prosecutions in the Late Twentieth Century

  • Caroline DerryEmail author


Allen marked a shift to prosecuting lesbians for sexual offences, a legal response to the growth of lesbian visibility. In 1995, the teenage defendant was imprisoned for indecent assault offences arising from her relationship with a thirteen-year-old girl. However, the shift was less radical than it might first appear: Allen’s prosecution was broadly contemporary with others reminiscent of female husband cases including those of Jennifer Saunders and Kelly Trueman. Further, although the law was formally equal for women and men accused of indecently assaulting females, sentencing approaches were very different. In particular, lesbianism was considered a source of corruption and embarrassment, seen as peculiarly aggravating factors.

Parliament, meanwhile, was moving in a more liberal direction. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 signalled a fundamental change in approach as it aimed to implement new principles of gender neutrality and equality. The chapter ends by considering how far it did so and its particular impact upon regulation of sex between women.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. 1980. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  2. Aspinall, Adam. 2018. Lesbian Head Escapes Sex Offender List. Daily Mirror, October 9.Google Scholar
  3. Auchmuty, Rosemary. 2004. Same-Sex Marriage Revived: Feminist Critique and Legal Strategy. Feminism & Psychology 14 (1): 101–126. Scholar
  4. ———. 2015. Feminist Approaches to Sexuality and Law Scholarship. Legal Information Management 15: 4–7. Scholar
  5. Barker, Nicola. 2012. Not the Marrying Kind: A Feminist Critique of Same-Sex Marriage. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bartlett, Annie. 2005. “Sex Offenders: Madness, myth and modern monsters”. Lecture, Dana Centre, London, June 29.Google Scholar
  7. Bartlett, Peter. 1998. Silence and Sodomy: The Creation of Homosexual Identity in Law. Modern Law Review 61 (1): 102–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. BBC News. 2014. Teacher Emily Fox Jailed for Having Sex with Pupil, September 5.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2018. Tinder User Jailed for Tricking Blindfolded Men into Sex, November 9.Google Scholar
  10. Beresford, Sarah. 2008. Get Over Your (Legal) ‘Self’: A Brief History of Lesbians, Motherhood and the Law. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 30 (2): 95–106. Scholar
  11. ———. 2014. The Age of Consent and the Ending of Queer Theory. Laws 3 (4): 759–779. Scholar
  12. Bowcott, Owen. 2018. John Worboys’ Victims Win Human Rights Case against Police. The Guardian, February 21.Google Scholar
  13. Byrne, Paul. 2007. The Corrupter. Daily Mirror, October 19.Google Scholar
  14. Capital Gay. 1991a. Judge Hits Back Over Criticism: Demo Sparks Outburst, November 15.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 1991b. Judge Crabtree, November 22.Google Scholar
  16. ———. 1992. Judge Frees Jailed Lesbian, June 19.Google Scholar
  17. Carlen, Pat. 1993. Women’s Imprisonment: A Study in Social Control. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Carter, Vicki. 1992. Abseil Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Lesbian and Gay Campaigning Tactics and Section 28. In Modern Homosexualities: Fragments of Lesbian and Gay Experience, ed. Ken Plummer, 217–226. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Chapman, John. 2009. Jailed Lesbian Teacher to See Lover, 15, When Freed. Daily Express, September 22.Google Scholar
  20. Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution. 1957. Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  21. Cooper, Davina. 1993. An Engaged State: Sexuality, Governance and the Potential for Change. In Activating Theory: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Politics, ed. Joseph Bristow and Angelia R. Wilson, 190–218. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
  22. Crane, Paul. 1982. Gays and the Law. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  23. Crown Prosecution Service. 2004. Legal Guidance: Sexual Offences Act 2003.
  24. ———. 2017. Rape and Sexual Offences—Chapter 2: Sexual Offences Act 2003—Principal Offences, and Sexual Offences Act 1956—Most Commonly Charged Offences | The Crown Prosecution Service. Code for Crown Prosecutors.
  25. Daily Mirror. 2010. Tutor on Sex List, November 11.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2011. Pupil Affair Tutor Jailed, May 14.Google Scholar
  27. ———. 2013. Lesbian Fling Teacher Jailed, November 23.Google Scholar
  28. ———. 2016. Park Lesbian’s Drink Therapy, August 20.Google Scholar
  29. Daily Star. 2013. Teacher Is Caged, November 23.Google Scholar
  30. Davies, Caroline. 2019. Police Escape Misconduct Charges over Case of Serial Killer Stephen Port. The Guardian, July 5.Google Scholar
  31. Derby Evening Telegraph. 2004a. Lesbian Pervert Guilty of Abusing Girl, February 10.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 2004b. Victim of Lesbian Predator ‘Taunted’ at School, March 9.Google Scholar
  33. Flanagan, Padraic, and Bob McGowan. 2000. My Gay Hell in the Police. Express, October 20.Google Scholar
  34. Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists. 2001. Consultation on Setting the Boundaries: Reforming the Law on Sex Offences. London.Google Scholar
  35. Gerry, Felicity, and Lyndon Harris. 2015. Women in Prison: Is the Justice System Fit for Purpose? London: Halsbury’s Law Exchange.Google Scholar
  36. Guardian. 1992. Sex Case Girl Released on Appeal, June 13.Google Scholar
  37. Harne, Lynne, and Rights of Women. 1997. Valued Families: The Lesbian Mothers’ Legal Handbook. London: The Women’s Press.Google Scholar
  38. Hawken, Abe. 2014. Sex Attack at Navy Base by Lesbian Sailor. Daily Mirror, October 10.Google Scholar
  39. Home Office. 2002. Protecting the Public—Strengthening Protection Against Sex Offenders and Reforming the Law on Sexual Offences. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  40. ———. 2006. Sexual Assault on a Female’—Long-Term National Recorded Crime Trend.
  41. Honoré, Tony. 1978. Sex Law. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  42. Jackson, Louise A. 2000. Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Jackson, Stevi, and Sue Scott. 2004. Sexual Antinomies in Late Modernity. Sexualities 7 (2): 233–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jennings, Rebecca. 2007. A Lesbian History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Women since 1500. Oxford: Greenwood World Publishing.Google Scholar
  45. ———. 2008. ‘The Most Uninhibited Party They’d Ever Been to’: The Postwar Encounter Between Psychiatry and the British Lesbian, 1945–1971. Journal of British Studies 47 (4): 883–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jivani, Alkarim. 1997. It’s Not Unusual: A History of Lesbian and Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. London: M. O’Mara Books.Google Scholar
  47. Judicial College. 2018. Equal Treatment Bench Book. February. London: Judicial College.Google Scholar
  48. Judicial Studies Board. 2000. Equal Treatment Bench Book. London: Judicial Studies Board.Google Scholar
  49. Lacey, Nicola. 2001. Beset by Boundaries. Criminal Law Review: 3–11.Google Scholar
  50. Lavelle, Ashley. 2014. ‘Wham Bam Tap Scratch Screech’: The Brief—But Proud—History of Lesbian London, 1991–1994. Journal of Lesbian Studies 18 (1): 88–100. Scholar
  51. Leicester Mercury. 2000. Woman Is Jailed for Molesting Schoolgirl, May 19.Google Scholar
  52. Lloyd, Ann. 1995. Doubly Deviant, Doubly Damned: Society’s Treatment of Violent Women. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  53. Love, Heather. 2007. Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Mackinnon, Catharine. 1987. Feminism Unmodified. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Murphy, Neil. 2018. Gay Tinder User Jailed for Tricking Blindfolded Men into Sex by Dressing as Woman. Mirror, November 9.Google Scholar
  56. Naffine, Ngaire. 1994. Possession: Erotic Love in the Law of Rape. Modern Law Review 56: 10–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. News of the World. 2004. Lesbian, 22 Posed as Boy of 16 to Seduce Girl of 12, February 29.Google Scholar
  58. Pink Paper. 1991. Off with His Wig, October 26.Google Scholar
  59. Plummer, Ken. 1992. Speaking Its Name: Inventing a Lesbian and Gay Studies. In Modern Homosexualities: Fragments of Lesbian and Gay Experience, ed. Ken Plummer, 3–28. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  60. Policy Advisory Committee on Sexual Offences. 1981. Report on the Age of Consent in Relation to Sexual Offences. London.Google Scholar
  61. Ripley and Heanor News. 2004. Woman Posed as Teenage Boy to Assault Child, February 12.Google Scholar
  62. Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce. 1956. Report of the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce. London.Google Scholar
  63. Rubin, Gayle. 1989. Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality. In Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality, ed. Carole S. Vance, 267–319. London: Pandora.Google Scholar
  64. Schneider, Beth E. 1992. Lesbian Politics and AIDS Work. In Modern Asian Studies, ed. Ken Plummer, 160–174. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  65. Sentencing Council. 2013. Sexual Offences Definitive Guideline. London: Sentencing Council.Google Scholar
  66. Sentencing Guidelines Council. 2007. Sexual Offences Act 2003 Definitive Guideline. London: Sentencing Guidelines Secretariat.Google Scholar
  67. Sexual Offences Review. 2000. Setting the Boundaries: Reforming the Law on Sex Offences, Vol. 1. London.Google Scholar
  68. Sharman, Jon. 2018. Woman Jailed for String of Sex Attacks on Young Girls. Independent, September 27.Google Scholar
  69. Sharpe, Alex. 2018. Sexual Intimacy and Gender Identity “Fraud”: Reframing the Legal & Ethical Debate. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  70. Sharpe, Martyn. 1991a. Blonde Dressed as Boy Seduced 2 Girls. Sun, September 19.Google Scholar
  71. ———. 1991b. I’ve Got a 36D Chest, How Can I Be a Boy? Sun, September 20.Google Scholar
  72. Smith, Anna Marie. 1992. Resisting the Erasure of Lesbian Sexuality: A Challenge for Queer Activism. In Modern Homosexualities: Fragments of Lesbian and Gay Experience, ed. Ken Plummer, 200–213. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  73. ———. 1995. The Regulation of Lesbian Sexuality Through Erasure: The Case of Jennifer Saunders. In Dyke Erotics, ed. Karla Jay, 164–179. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  74. ———. 1998. The Hegemonic Regulation of Butch Performance: Regina v Saunders. In Butch/Femme: Inside Lesbian Gender, ed. Sally R. Munt, 177–190. London: Cassell.Google Scholar
  75. ———, ed. 2000. Regina v Saunders: A Collection of the Official Documents Relating to the 1991 Crown Court Trial and the 1992 Court of Appeal Hearing. Cornell University.Google Scholar
  76. Smith, Leanne. 2006. Principle or Pragmatism? Lesbian Parenting, Shared Residence and Parental Responsibility after Re G (Residence: Same Sex Partner). Child and Family Law Quarterly 18 (1): 125.Google Scholar
  77. Smyth, Cherry. 1991. Get Out! Get Angry? City Limits, February 14.Google Scholar
  78. ———. n.d.-a Age of Consent. Accessed December 13, 2006.
  79. ———. n.d.-b Love. Accessed October 30, 2002.
  80. Stychin, Carl F. 2003. Governing Sexuality: The Changing Politics of Citizenship and Law Reform. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  81. Sun. 1991a. This Is a Woman Who ‘Pretended She Was a Man Then Seduced Two Young Girls’, September 19.Google Scholar
  82. ———. 1991b. 6 Years for Blonde Who Posed as a Boy to Bed Girls, September 21.Google Scholar
  83. Tatchell, Peter. n.d. Consent at Sixteen: Protection or Persecution? Accessed September 23, 2004.
  84. Telegraph. 2012. Margaret Thatcher Saved Career of Police Chief Who Made Aids Remarks, January 4.Google Scholar
  85. Thomas, David, ed. 2004. Current Sentencing Practice. London: Sweet and Maxwell.Google Scholar
  86. Thomas, Philip, and Ruth Costigan. 1990. Promoting Homosexuality: Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. Cardiff: Cardiff Law School.Google Scholar
  87. Tweedie, Jill. 1972. Who Goes Home? Guardian, September 11.Google Scholar
  88. Twomey, John. 2016. Lesbian PE Teacher Jailed for Grooming Schoolgirls for Sex. Daily Express, January 30.Google Scholar
  89. Waites, Matthew. 2002. Inventing a ‘Lesbian Age of Consent’? The History of the Minimum Age for Sex Between Women in the UK. Social & Legal Studies 11 (3): 323–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. ———. 2003. Equality at Last? Homosexuality, Heterosexuality and the Age of Consent in the United Kingdom. Sociology 37 (4): 637–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Walmesley, Roy, and Karen White. 1979. Home Office Research Unit Study No. 54: Sexual Offences, Consent and Sentencing. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  92. Weeks, Jeffrey. 1981. Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  93. ———. 2016. Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain from the Nineteenth Century to the Present. 3rd ed. London: Quartet Books.Google Scholar
  94. Willey, Garry. 1999. Youth Worker Is Jailed for Sex Assaults—Woman Sacked After Lesbian Affair with Under-Age Girl. Evening Chronicle, December 18.Google Scholar
  95. Wolfenden, John. 1976. Turning Points. London: Bodley Head.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Law SchoolThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

Personalised recommendations