Oh my God. Vicky Price’s defence gets even better:
The defence is contained in section 47 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925:
“ Any presumption of law that an offence committed by a wife in the presence of her husband is committed under the coercion of the husband is hereby abolished, but on a charge against a wife for any offence other than treason or murder it shall be a good defence to prove that the offence was committed in the presence of, and under the coercion of, the husband. ”
This section reversed the legal burden of proof in such cases.
Section 37 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945 (c.15) (N.I.) is identical to the section cited above and applies to Northern Ireland.
Paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 to the Crimes Act 1900 makes provision for New South Wales.
Differences to duress
While marital coercion is broadly similar to duress, it has the following differences:
It must be proved that the defendant is the legal wife of the man who coerced her. A mistaken though reasonable belief that she was married will not suffice. Civil partnership does not suffice.
The burden of proof is on the defence to prove marital coercion on the balance of probabilities, whereas the burden is on the prosecution to disprove duress beyond reasonable doubt.
Huhne has to show that he did not coerce her.
Huhne’s toast, i’nne?