'Rough-sex' defence set to be banned as death of Kinver woman highlighted

The "rough-sex" defence is set to be banned as part of new legislation prompted in part by the horrific death of a woman in Kinver.

Millionaire John Broadhurst was jailed for the manslaughter of Natalie Connolly - but cleared of murder
Millionaire John Broadhurst was jailed for the manslaughter of Natalie Connolly - but cleared of murder

Justice minister Alex Chalk said it was "unconscionable" that the defence can be used in court to justify or excuse the death of a woman "simply because she consented".

Campaigners and prominent politicians, including Labour's Harriet Harman, have led calls for a change in the law to stop men accused of killing their partners using the "rough sex" defence in court.

They have highlighted the case of Natalie Connolly, whose death attracted national attention and has been held up as a catalyst for change.

Harriet Harman has led the push for change

The 26-year-old was left to die in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs by her millionaire partner, John Broadhurst, during a drink-and-drugs-fuelled sex session at their home on Kenrose Mill, Kinver, in December 2016, in which she was subjected to violent abuse.

Broadhurst was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter and jailed for three years, eight months.

Mr Chalk said in the Commons this week it would be made "crystal clear" in the Domestic Abuse Bill that the defence was not acceptable.

Ms Harman, who served as Labour deputy leader under Gordon Brown, and Ms Connolly's MP, Mark Garnier, have led the push in Parliament for the "fifty shades defence", as it has been dubbed, to be outlawed.

Mr Chalk made reference to Ms Connolly's ordeal during a debate on the Bill.

He said: "I pay tribute, as others have, to my honourable friend the member for Wyre Forest (Mr Garnier), who is the constituency MP of Natalie Connolly and her family, and to the right honourable and learned member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman).

"They have run a formidable campaign and have engaged closely and constructively with the Government. I pay tribute to them for that."

He added: "I apologise to members of the committee for taking so long to explain the Government’s position on the new clauses. As I have sought to explain, we fully understand the anguish and hurt felt by the family of Natalie Connolly and many others, and, as lawmakers, we will and should do what we can to minimise such anguish on the part of bereaved families in the future.

"For the reasons that I have set out, the Government cannot support a number of the new clauses, but as I have indicated before, we expect to set out the Government’s approach in respect of the rough sex issue in time for ​report."

Birmingham MP and former Labour leadership contender Jess Phillips said: "Not only did Mr Broadhurst kill Natalie, but he was able to entirely shape the narrative around her death, as she was not there to speak for herself.

"I have become a bit of an old hand at some things, but the Connolly case is so harrowing that I cannot imagine how her family have coped with it.

"The law should be clear to all: a person cannot consent to serious injury or death. But the case law is not up to the task. When a woman is dead, she cannot speak for herself."

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