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5 May 2017 | Comment | Article by Martin Jones

Line of Duty – Battle of the spouses?

*Spoilers below*

With the final episode of BBC One’s serial police drama ‘Line of Duty’ at the forefront of everyone’s minds, there are still so many questions that we feel have been left unanswered.  Was H definitely ACC Hilton? Was Tim Ifield balaclava man after all? Plus, was Jimmy Lakewell telling the truth when he said ‘there are balaclava men’ and more importantly will they strike again in an already confirmed series 5?

However, another topic that was touched upon in Sunday’s episode was that of ‘Spousal privilege’. Within the realms of law, the term ‘ privilege’ takes another meaning and ultimately protects you from having to give evidence against a person whom you have a special connection with such as a spouse.  Under usual circumstances, spouses or civil partners are able to give evidence for the prosecution.  However this is an exception to this rule is when the spouse or civil partner is being jointly charged which would force spouses to testify against one another. This is the case in both civil and criminal proceedings.

In order for this to be applicable, there must be a legally binding and valid marriage in place (as was the case with Roz and Nick Huntley) and they must still be legally married at the time that the communication is required between them. There have been calls over recent years however, that this law (Part of the Criminal Evidence Act, 1992) should be scrapped as there are people escaping justice if they are co-accused with their spouse and have time to marry before the case goes to trial.  This was something that was focused in on specifically by the Scottish Government who aimed to close this very obvious loophole.

So with this in mind and knowing that Roz Huntley has been sentenced to 10 years for Manslaughter, there is every possibility that her Husband could have given evidence against her in court as they were no longer being jointly charged for the murder of Tim Ifield. What we do know for certain however, is that we are all waiting on the edge of our seats for the next series and ultimately some answers to our long list of questions.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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