Bradford and Clark must be howling with glee and derision. They’ve outlawyered (not to mention out-politicked) opponents of their Bill.
The ‘compromise’ words have no legal effect. They merely “affirm that the Police have a discretion not to prosecute“ – meaning that no new discretion is added, only the existing rules and duties apply.
Worse – to escape prosecution the smack must be “so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution“. Those words can’t have had competent legal consideration from any opposing lawyer.
At the technical level “no public interest” is ludicrous. Of course there will be some public interest in almost every incident. 20% of the population have a passionate interest in forcing the rest to change their child rearing beliefs. That 20% has made it illegal to smack.
There will of course be immense public interest in test cases, and passionate views that it is in the public interest to bring them. The more “inconsequential” the smack, the more deterrent impact a successful prosecution will have.
To disqualify any prosecution it should have said something like “no reasonable public interest” or “no useful purpose would be served that outweighed the public interest in avoiding prosecutions that bring the law in to contempt”.
And then there is the contempt shown for our constitutional traditions. It is fundamental to our law that it is not for the Police to decide what the law is, or ought to be. It is their job to uphold it.
Now the leaders of Parliament are telling the Police to ensure that the courts do not get to consider where the law’s boundaries lie. Here is Parliament cold-bloodedly passing law it does not want enforced.
Any wonder why our criminals think the law is a joke, and we have among the highest levels of violent crime in the Western world.
For years I was the only MP prepared to debate this issue publicly with Ms Bradford. I went to public meetings all over the land with her. She is good company.
But she has the ruthless Marxist view that the ends justify the means. She lied happily about the legal effect of the Bill, on the basis that it was in a good cause. Now she’s drawn the rest of Parliament into legal deceit.