December 2009

Gay Labour councillor loses legal challenge over underage sex

A Labour councillor who was arrested in a Belfast hotel room in 2007 with his 17-year-old boyfriend has failed in a bid to bring a legal challenge against police.

Hull City councillor Steven Bayes, 47, was found with his boyfriend Dale Martin, who was 17 when he was arrested. At the time, the legal age of consent for gay sex in Northern Ireland was 18. This has now been lowered to 16, in line with the rest of the UK.

Following the arrest, both men had their homes and offices raided by police.

Bayes, a councillor for Hull, argued a judicial review was necessary because his privacy had been breached and he had been discriminated against.

The proceedings were launched against the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Public Prosecution Service.

Bayes was told in July that no action would be taken because it was not in the public interest.

His legal challenge was rejected, with the main reason being a delay in applying.

The judge said the legal landscape had changed since the arrest, pointing to the change in the age of consent.

Bayes criticised police and prosecutors for how the case was handled.

According to the BBC, he said: “The police just came in with their big stomping feet all over everything and didn’t look at it, bearing in mind the law was changing.

“If it wasn’t in the public interest in July 2009, it wasn’t in the public interest in December 2007 and they should have known that.”

The couple are now engaged. Bayes maintains that he believed Martin was 18 when they first met online.