I write this post in response to Ken Clarke’s comments about self-defence on 29th June 2011. When speaking to a BBC Correspondent, Mr Clarke said that, ‘a householder who stabbed a burglar would not have committed a criminal offence.’ This, I’m afraid, will create a false sense of security for anyone thinking they can stab someone simply because they are burgling their home. They can’t and they never will be allowed to. The law on self-defence says that a person can use only whatever force is reasonable to protect himself, another or his property in the face of perceived or actual violence (and in the case of a police officer, to pursue an arrest). A burglar is not exempt from this law.
For Mr Clarke to say,’we all know what we mean when we say a person has an absolute right to defend themselves and their homes,’ is simply wrong. Everyone has a different interpretation of what is reasonable and ultimately, as has always been the case, it is the opinion of the 12 people sitting on the jury that matters and not Mr Clarke’s.
Everyone that has spoken to me about the force I used to defend myself as I tried to arrest a drunken thug who repeatedly punched me to the head, has said that what I did was clearly right in law. Unfortunately, and due to the subjective nature of the interpretation of the law (and the word reasonable), the judge and jury were not so clear.
Mr Clarke’s comments are misleading, untrue and dangerous to anyone thinking of defending themselves or their home in the face of violence. I have tried to contact Mr Clarke several times since he took up his post as Justice Secretary. I have had no response.