Party leaders all back laws to combat ‘rough sex’ defence

It comes after Grace Millane’s killer was found guilty

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Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson have all pledged to introduce laws to combat the “rough sex” defence used by a rising number of defendants in the murder of women.

This defence was most recently used by the murderer of Grace Millane, who unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the jury that her death was an “accident”.

Campaigners from the “We Can’t Consent To This” group have said “59 UK women have been killed and many more injured in what is claimed to be ‘consensual’ violent sex” since 1972 and over the last five years this defence was successful in nearly half the killings that went to trial.

Grazia magazine, Harriet Harman MP and the campaign group “We Can’t Consent To This” teamed up to start a petition to end the rough sex defence, nicknamed the “50 shades defence” and bring back the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Grazia magazine asked the leaders of the major parties whether they would back their campaign to bring back the bill.

Boris Johnson said: “Yes, absolutely – like many others I was frustrated that this Bill couldn’t progress because of the gridlock in Parliament.

“If we are elected with a majority, we’ll bring this Bill back as soon as possible. I agree with Harriet Harman that the ‘50 shades defence’ is unacceptable and we’ll make sure the law is clear on this. ”

Jermey Corbyn also supported the campaign and said: “We will absolutely reintroduce a Domestic Abuse Bill, something the Conservatives failed to do in the last Parliament. I am proud this commitment is in our manifesto, alongside our plans for a National Refuge Fund to ensure financial stability for rape crisis centres, so that no one is turned away.”

Jo Swinson said of whether she would back the campaign: “It’s a travesty that the Conservatives, in two years, have got nowhere with the Domestic Abuse Bill. Talk about dither and delay. I would bring the bill back as soon as Parliament returns, and strengthen it, by supporting a full-time, fully-funded Domestic Abuse Commissioner.”

According to The Independent the leaders’ commitment comes after fears that the “50 shades defence” is on the rise, as 20 of the 59 women killed in “consensual violence” since 1972 were committed in the last five years.

If the proposed bill goes through it would bring case law from 1993 formally into statute.

The case in question involved a man who had inflicted grievous bodily harm on his male lover.

The House of Lords ruled that if the injuries were serious, the defendant cannot claim the victim consented as a defence.

Campaigners hope that this law would mean that it would stop police and coroners dismissing “accidental” sex related deaths as non suspicious as well as potentially preventing lawyers from using a woman’s sexual history as evidence that she consented to the injuries that caused her death.

To sign the petition visit here.

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