I will freely admit to being rubbish on this issue. I saw that Lallands Peat Worrier had written a blog post entitled Scotland Legalises Domestic Abuse two weeks ago and had it in mind to pick it up myself. Events and health ran away with me a bit and when I saw another post from LPW three days later saying that the Government was taking action and the issue would be quickly resolved, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Essentially what happened was that a man, David Hatcher who had been convicted of breach of peace because of his behaviour towards his wife Lorraine in front of their children, but in their own home, won his appeal on the basis that the offence of breach of the peace needs to have adult witnesses and a public element. As far as I understand it, he doesn't deny that the events took place, merely that the law had no right to convict him for that behaviour.
Until 6th October, when the Government's swift action to remedy this loophole in the law comes into force, we're in a situation in Scotland where it's effectively legal to abuse your partner so long as you do it in private. If you want to subject them to several hours of aggression, abuse and intimidation, as long as there are no witnesses, you can be the law's guest. A new offence, of threatening or abusive behaviour, is to be created which will cover situations like the one Lorraine Hatcher found herself in on 7th January this year.
You would think that the mainstream media would have made a huge fuss about the implications of the Hatcher judgement. Well it's finally woken up to what's been going on as LPW wrote yesterday. Well, at least one paper, Scotland on Sunday has. You know, if this was about a loophole in a European law, I bet all the tabloid press would have been up in arms about those evil people in Brussels.
Anyway, it's good to see that LPW got on to it so quickly and built the case for the law to be changed. I'm also glad that other Liberal Democrats were not as tardy as I, with Robert Brown tabling a question in the Scottish Parliament almost immediately on hearing from LPW.