Repeal of provisions about defence for controlling or coercive behaviour offence

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 17 Mehefin 2020.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 9:25, 17 Mehefin 2020

No, it is not the same at all. If the hon. Lady will listen for a moment, the point is that there is, on the face of a statute, a defence that the jury can consider. They get to consider it only if a judge is satisfied that there is a prima facie defence—in other words, if what the defendant is advancing is patently and transparently unmeritorious, it may well not even go to a jury. A judge might say, “This is such a load of old nonsense that it doesn’t even cross the threshold for a jury to decide.” It is simply where there is a prima facie case. We should trust juries to say, “Is there something in that, or is there not?” It is not for us to adjudicate in every single case. Trust juries; trust the people. It is different from the point that the hon. Lady was making about rough sex, because there was a lacuna in the law. Our job is to fill the lacuna and then leave it to juries, who have shown for many centuries that they are well placed to do justice in a specific case.

I will make a final point on this issue, because I do not want to dwell too long on it. If the policy were not in place, there is a danger that the same people that the hon. Member for Hove quite properly wants to stand up for, and who we want to stand up for—namely, people with disabilities—could be disadvantaged if people take the view of, “Hold on a moment. By doing what I think is genuinely and objectively in the best interests of an individual, I am at risk of conviction, punishment and disgrace. Do you know what? Why on earth should I be doing that? Why should I be putting myself at risk in that way.” We have to ensure that we do not inadvertently, and despite the best intentions, find ourselves making life more difficult for the people we want to support.