Shipley MP's concern over legal loophole allowing killers to walk free.

Philip Davies

Philip Davies

First published in News

SHIPLEY MP Philip Davies criticised his own Government for failing to close a legal loophole that is allowing killers to walk free.

The Conservative backbencher clashed with a justice minister after he refused to change the law to widen the offence of ‘joint enterprise’.

Mr Davies attempted to amend a new Crime Bill to allow people to be prosecuted for “causing or allowing any person to die or suffer serious physical harm”.

He said the Families Fighting for Justice organisation had been set up after several alleged killers escaped justice because they acted as members of a group

Yet the current law, dating back a decade, only allowed prosecutions if the victim was a child or vulnerable adult.

Mr Davies told MPs: “There are a significant number of cases where killers are walking free because the law cannot touch them.

“I cannot see any good reason why the existing law that covers children and vulnerable adults should not be extended to adult victims of similar crimes.

“This would mean that fewer families would have to live with the fact that their loved ones are gone and that nobody has been held responsible for their deaths - even when everybody knows who was responsible.”

Mr Davies referred to the 2001 murder of Donald Banfield, in North London. His wife and daughter were convicted of murder, but those convictions were overturned last year.

And he said: “It is outrageous that, simply because neither will assist the prosecution with the case and say what really happened, there is nothing that can be done to bring one or both of them to justice.

“It was pretty obvious that the mother and daughter were there. Everybody accepts that, yet those women are still walking free - and it seems the minister is not prepared to do anything about it.”

But Jeremy Wright, the justice minister, said the law was intended to deal with household members who failed to “protect the victim from a foreseeable risk of serious physical harm”.

And he argued there was an existing ‘joint enterprise’ law where there could be shown to be a “common purpose between two or more people”.

Mr Wright told Mr Davies: “I am not persuaded that it would be right to extend section 5 in the way that is suggested.”

The minister later joked that he was “worried” when other Conservative MPs agreed with the Shipley MP on crime measures.

Mr Davies, meanwhile, accused the minister of talking “Sir Humphrey guff” over a separate, also unsuccessful bid to extend the law on squatting to non-residential buildings.

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