‘Fifty Shades of Grey defence’ means killers are getting ‘free pass’ to murder their partners who ‘want to be strangled’, warn campaigners
- Since 1972 the defence has been used in 59 cases in which women were killed
- Campaign group We Can’t Consent to This pushing for the defence to be banned
- Grace Millane’s killer said she died accidentally during consensual rough sex
The man who strangled the British backpacker Grace Millane, 21, to death in New Zealand said he killed her accidentally during consensual rough sex
Killers are being given a ‘free pass’ to murder their partners thanks to a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ defence, which allows them to claim that their victims ‘wanted to be strangled and beaten’, campaigners have warned.
In some cases lawyers have told their clients to lie and say that they killed their partners in ‘rough’ but consensual sex.
The campaign group We Can’t Consent to This is pushing for the defence – named after the famous book by EL James – to be banned.
The group have seen increasing support from women’s charities and MPs in recent months.
According to The Times, the group said the number of UK murder and assault cases in which this defence is used has increased tenfold since 2000.
That is an increase from two cases a year to 20.
Since 1972 the defence has been used in 59 cases in which women were killed, with a third of those being in the past five years.
Half of the alleged killers – all male – were convicted on a charge less serious than murder and two were cleared.
The man who strangled the British backpacker Grace Millane, 21, to death in New Zealand said he killed her accidentally during consensual rough sex.
In the past fortnight, murder and assault cases involving several British women in which this defence was used have made headlines.
Jesse Kempson – The man who murdered British backpacker Grace Millane
They include the case of a Welsh man who was cleared of strangling and stamping on his girlfriend in a ‘savage attack’ after saying that it had been part of a ‘really weird sex game’.
Fiona MacKenzie, founder of We Can’t Consent to This, said the defence was being used as a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ by men, including those with a history of domestic abuse.
She said: ‘There has been the extreme normalisation of violence against women in sex, which means that, in a court case, violence can now be something that you can ‘consent’ to. It’s bonkers.’
In the cases of men using the ‘Fifty Shades’ defence, two-thirds of the women and girls killed had been strangled, according to We Can’t Consent to This.
Labour’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman and the Conservative politician Mark Garnier have urged parliamentary candidates to back a proposed amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill.