One of the Scottish Parliament’s new members is calling for a change in the law to stop jealous killers literally getting away with murder.
Emma Roddick MSP has called on the Scottish Government to use the opportunity presented by a Scottish Law Commission discussion paper to abolish the partial defence of ‘provocation by sexual infidelity’. This defence enables those charged with murder to be convicted instead of the lesser offence of culpable homicide and so escape a mandatory life sentence.
Under the current law, a person charged with murder can have that charge reduced if they are able to demonstrate that the killing was provoked by a belief that a partner had been sexually unfaithful. Ms Roddick believes that this defence represents the values of centuries past and has no place in modern Scotland.
Shortly after asking a question on the matter in the Parliament, Ms Roddick said:
“The defence arose originally to enable a man who killed another man after discovering that man having sex with his wife to escape the gallows. Shockingly, it continues to exist despite the abolition of capital punishment and has even been expanded to apply in a much wider range of circumstances.
“I am glad the Scottish Law Commission is looking at the various aspects related to the mental elements of homicide. This area of the law is long overdue for reform and the continuing existence of this outdated and unjustifiable partial defence shows that.”
In its discussion paper, the Scottish Law Commission states that the ‘provocation by sexual infidelity’ defence is “based historically upon the concept of possession and an insult to a man’s honour”. The modern test for the application of the defence is whether “an ordinary man, having been thus provoked, would have been liable to react as he did”.
You can watch the question and Keith Brown MSP’s answer below: