England

MP Harriet Harman warns against '50 Shades' murder defence

Natalie Connolly Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Natalie Connolly was killed by her partner John Broadhurst who engaged her in "rough sex"

Labour's former minister for women has called for a review of a killer's sentence who was jailed for his girlfriend's manslaughter.

Multi-millionaire John Broadhurst was jailed for less than four years for killing Natalie Connolly after engaging in "rough sex" at their home in Kinver.

Labour MP Harriet Harman called it the "50 Shades of Grey defence", whereby men claim women asked for violence.

"We cannot have a situation where men kill women and blame them," she said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption John Broadhurst admitted manslaughter by gross negligence which was accepted in place of his original murder charge

"No man will ever be accused of murder again if he can always say, 'yes she's injured, she wanted it'," the MP for Camberwell and Peckham told BBC Woman's Hour.

"She will never be able to say, 'no I didn't' because he's killed her and therefore she hasn't got a voice."

Ms Harman has written to the attorney general to look at whether Broadhurst's sentencing was too "lenient".

The attorney general said he was already looking at the case after a submission by a member of the public and he has 28 days to decide whether to send the case to the Court of Appeal.

Image caption Harriet Harman said Broadhurst "besmirched" his girlfriend's reputation "to get a light sentence"

Broadhurst, who was initially charged with murder, claimed the 26-year-old mother-of-one was injured as a result of consensual sexual activity fuelled by alcohol and drugs.

The CPS changed the charge to manslaughter during the trial when there ceased to be a "realistic prospect of conviction".

Ms Harman said the defence was "ominous" as the offender "cannot be contradicted when he says she [the victim] wanted it".

The MP was criticised by barristers on social media including author 'The Secret Barrister' who suggested she "obtain the full facts" before forming an opinion on the sentence.

Ms Harman admitted she had not been in court, but said she had spoken to Ms Connolly's family and read reports of the case.

Ms Connolly's family described Broadhurst as "callous", "disrespectful", and "heartless".

"He has never publicly apologised or shown any remorse for the cruel way in which he left my daughter."

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