Grayling seeks to emulate Irish Government’s “licence to kill” home defence bill

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling has said the Conservatives would “look at” emulating the Irish Government’s new “licence to kill” household defence law.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling has said the Conservatives would “look at” emulating the Irish Government’s new “licence to kill” household defence law.

Speaking on this morning’s 5ive Live Breakfast (2:36:56-2:41:58), he said:

“I think the legal system should accept that people may overreact through fear and that’s the point really, they’ve done this in Ireland, they have raised the hurdle effectively, they’ve not used the test of grossly disproportionate, they’ve used a different one, and we’ll look at their option as well.

His remarks echo today’s Daily Mail headline “Tories’ licence to kill a burglar”. However, when questioned about the implications of his plans for certain scenarios, he failed to give any straight answers.

Q. Woman in kitchen stabs intruder to death; “grossly disproportionate”?

Grayling: “It’s difficult to give a straight answer to that because the circumstances could be so varied, and I think you’d have to leave it down to the court, but I think y’know…”

Q. What if it was a man?

Grayling: “Well, it’s, I mean, the reason why I’m kind of not giving you a straight answer, is actually it’s very difficult to define it exactly every circumstance, and you have to let the courts form a judgement based on the circumstance.”

The legislation, a draft bill appended to a report on Defences in Criminal Law, was launched by Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern last week. The Irish Times reports that under the new law:

“If a person is defending his or her dwelling, the requirement to retreat would not apply. In this situation, if the attack is serious and immediate, and the force used is necessary and proportionate, a person would be acquitted of murder if the intruder was killed during the incident.

13 Responses to “Grayling seeks to emulate Irish Government’s “licence to kill” home defence bill”

  1. Shamik Das

    More bandwagon jumping> RT @leftfootfwd: Grayling seeks 2 emulate Irish Government’s “licence to kill” home defence bill: http://is.gd/5w9I2

  2. Tim Nicholls

    RT: @leftfootfwd Grayling seeks to emulate Irish Government’s “licence to kill” home defence bill: http://is.gd/5w9I2

  3. Shamik Das

    More bandwagon jumping: RT @leftfootfwd: Grayling seeks 2 emulate Irish Government’s “licence to kill” home defence bill: http://is.gd/5w9I2

  4. Grayling seeks to emulate Irish Government's “licence to kill … emulator emulate

    […] View post:  Grayling seeks to emulate Irish Government's “licence to kill … […]

  5. Carl Gardner

    I think the “licence to kill” phrase is unhelpful. Our current law “licenses killing” if it’s reasonable to kill and intruder bearing in mind your honest fear of what he’ll do, and provided killing him was not disproportionate force. What Chris Grayling is proposing isn’t a licence to kill, but a licence to use disproportionate force, whether that be disproportionately killing a burglar or disproportionately slapping a child shoplifter, for instance.

    The Irish Law Reform Commission’s proposal offer Chris Grayling no comfort, in truth. It would retain a clear requirment that force be necessary and proportionate, as your Irish Times quote shows. The proposal would “raise the bar”, yes, but arguably to a point that’s lower than existing English law, and certainly to a point much lower than Chris Grayling’s idea.

  6. Anon E Mouse

    This is going to get a LOT of support for the Tories.

    People say that burglers should lose their rights as soon as they go over the threshold of another persons home. I’m fine with that. They should.

    What Grayling hasn’t considered though is that the intruders will go armed in future – it’ll be like an arms race and become even more dangerous for the home-owner.

    It’s going to get votes for the Tories but I think it just populist stuff and ill considered…

  7. Darrell

    Anon E Mouse,

    No they really shouldnt because the moment they do and we except notions like that then we are no longer a civilisation we are a mob and so what if they get support from it. Just because something is popular does not make it inherently right.

    Your second point proves the complete logical madness of Grayling’s position….

  8. Anon E Mouse

    Darrell – The problem is with these wishy washy rules is they send a message to society that the responsibility for a persons actions lie somewhere else and not with them.

    Why should drug addition be allowed to be used in mitigation for a persons actions? In a better world they would be punished twice, once for the burglery and once for the drug (mis)use.

    We know this isn’t working because people are genuinely unsure of their rights but it won’t affect the rich who can afford decent security and don’t live in an inner city sink estate where the majority of crime takes place.

    Look at Texas in the US – burglery is practically unknown. The wrongdoer knows in advance what the results of their actions may be.

    Imagine that – people get punished for their actions – in court I mean not by a home owner. But since the courts don’t act rationally and prisons clearly don’t work something has to be done.

    It just seems that the criminal justice system in the UK doesn’t protect the weak and for the life of me I don’t know why.

  9. Mark

    Grayling’s climbing aboard a bandwagon. But he’ll already find Jack Straw’s got a comfy seat aboard.

    If Shamik Das had put in a quick call to Will Straw, he could have discovered that Jack Straw has already tried similar media stunts. On several different occasions, either as Home Secretary or now as Justice Secretary Straw (or his entourage) have spun promises just like Grayling.

    “A source close to Mr Straw said last night that the plan was to reform self-defence laws in a way that ‘better balances the system in favour of victims of crime'” wrote the Telegraph in 2007 and you can find several other examples of this during Straw’s time in office, especially following the case of Tony Martin.

  10. Henry

    The Tories under William Hague tried this policy in 2000 after the Tony Martin case. Didn’t do them much good then, but I guess they want to climb back on the bandwagon.

  11. The Parallax Brief

    It’s difficult to understand the problem LeftFootForward has with this proposal. At the very least, when a burglar enters a house he is ALWAYS tacitly — at the very least; sometimes, it’s implicitly — threatening the lives of those inside. Do we not have the inalienable right to life free from persecution? A person should be able to take whatever action he deems necessary to subdue that threat — and it IS a threat. Offering simplistic hypothetical scenarios does not prove the point. First, they’re far too simplistic: it’s impossible for Grayling to offer an answer based on that, and he was quite right to say he didn’t want to give a straight answer to them. Second, laws are not made based on single examples. An example can be conjured in favour or against ANY law (eg. the risible “ticking bomb” hypothetical justification for torture), but that’s simply not how laws are, or should be, made.

    The Parallax Brief thought that Munir Hussein was wrong. The danger to his family and person had been subdued, and the force was more than necessary to make a citizen’s arrest. But had he given the man brain damage with the cricket bat in the house, with his family tied up and threatened, he would have been absolutely justified.

    It is bizarre that any civilized person could think otherwise.

  12. Grayling's household defence plans sound like "state-sponsored revenge" | Left Foot Forward

    […] Britain should follow. It’s a law he has spoken of before. In December, Left Foot Forward reported his inability to give direct answers to certain hypothetical situations that could ensue if such a […]

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