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Bid to outlaw smacking abandoned

21-04-2009

BBC News

The NI Children's Commissioner has abandoned attempts to ban smacking because of "financial constraints".

In February, the Court of Appeal dismissed Patricia Lewsley's latest attempt to outlaw smacking.

Her office incurred costs of £81,329, even before having to foot the bill of taking the case to the Court of Appeal.

"I am disappointed that I cannot continue my legal efforts to end the unequal treatment of children who suffer an assault," she said.

"However, I will continue my efforts to make sure that children have equal treatment and protection in law."

Defence

Ms Lewsley had been criticised by the DUP who accused her of mounting an "ideologically-driven campaign which attempts to criminalise parents", but she insisted her court action had been taken to protect children.

"The law as it stands makes it illegal to hit a child, but a defence is available to parents to a charge of common assault of a child," she said.

"I believe that is unclear, confusing for parents, and needs to be reformed. It should be clear that there is to be no more hitting of children in Northern Ireland."

She added: "In the same way as hitting adult partners was made illegal and without any defence, I am confident that one day there will be no defence for hitting a child."

The cost of the Court of Appeal action is not yet known.

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