20 SEPTEMBER 2003, Page 36

Sexual definition

From Francis Bennion Sir: In his article on the government's Sexual Offences Bill (I was 12, she was 13', 13 September), Rod Liddle writes, 'The courts will be left to decide what is sexual and what isn't.' This is not so. Clause 79 of the Bill lays down an elaborate definition of 'sexual' (a term which is used many times throughout the Bill). This definition is a triumph of obfuscation. Although an experienced parliamentary draftsman, I have no idea what it is supposed to mean. It runs as follows.

.. penetration, touching, or any other activity is sexual if — (a) from its nature, a reasonable person would consider that it may (at least) be sexual, and (b) a reasonable person would consider that it is sexual because of its nature, its circumstances or the purpose of any person in relation to it, or all or some of those considerations.'

Francis Bennion

Budleigh Salterton, Devon