Monday, September 27, 2010

Lallands Peat Worrier helps close Scottish domestic abuse loophole.

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.


Unknown said...

A comment from my friend Anne Horner, copied with her permission from Facebook

Unknown said...

"I was not aware of this so thank you, Caron, for writing about it.

I do now wonder what my then solicitor's advice would now be, when I stripped off to show her a bruise caused by the buckle of a belt, had it not been 1977.

Or how the aunt and uncle we were visiting might have probed more about the bruise on my cheek bone in 1983 instead of waiting until I told them I'd kicked him out - weeks later - to say: "Thank god for that - we couldn't stand the way he was speaking to you!"

So my message is that we abused keep silent and pretend it isn't happening. And if anyone thinks one of their family or friends might be in this position then for goodness sake drag them to the law because they can now get help!"

Lallands Peat Worrier said...

Many thanks for this post Caron. I don't know how significantly my interventions really were in prompting the speedy action. No doubt attentive folk working at the Crown Office played the major role in alerting ministers to the significant problems the Hatcher posed for future domestic abuse prosecutions.

That said, I was pleased to be able to highlight the subject and prompt an article and parliamentary question or two to make quite quite sure that swift action followed.

The lack of coverage this case received was intensely disturbing. Even without the problems it might present for future cases - the judgement itself is perverse and deserved far more attention.


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