Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Infidelity murder defence backed

Palace of Westminster
Peers rejected the proposed change by 15 votes

Ministers say they will "carefully" consider their options after plans to remove sexual infidelity as a partial defence for murder were scuppered.

A government amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill would have prevented juries from considering this to be a cause for "loss of self-control".

Peers rejected the plan by 15 votes, which the Tories called "common sense".

The government has to decide whether to put the amendment to MPs, possibly causing a battle with the Lords.

Under the plan, the loss of self-control caused by sexual infidelity would have been ruled out in deciding whether a murder charge could be reduced to manslaughter.

'Unacceptable'

But peers voted 99 to 84 against such a change.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "The government wants to make it clear once and for all, and in statute, that it is unacceptable to kill another person and then claim a partial defence to murder on the grounds of sexual infidelity."

This government proposal was always about political correctness and posturing, rather than sound criminal justice
Dominic Grieve, Conservatives

She added: "The history of the partial defence of provocation has led to a commonly held belief that this is a defence which can be abused by men who kill their wives out of sexual jealousy and revenge over infidelity.

"This erodes the confidence of the public in the fairness of the criminal justice system.

"The government is disappointed by the Lords' vote and will reflect carefully on the debate before deciding how to proceed."

But shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve said: "There is no justification for preventing juries from deciding for themselves whether sexual infidelity may or may not be grounds for reducing a charge of murder to manslaughter.

"This government proposal was always about political correctness and posturing, rather than sound criminal justice - its defeat is a victory for common sense."



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