AN eminent lawyer has attacked the ‘marital coercion’ defence used in the recent Vicky Pryce case, which she believes is archaic and demeaning to women.

Rachel Horman, works for Watson Ramsbottom solicitors who have offices in Blackburn, Accrington, Great Harwood and Darwen and represent people from all throughout East Lancashire.

She recently received the National Family Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award for 2012 in recognition of her work on domestic violence and forced marriage.

Mrs Horman spoke out after the ex-wife of Chris Huhne, the ex-cabinet minister and Lib Dem MP, Vicky Pryce was found guilty of perverting the course of justice, having failed with the defence of ‘marital coercion’ against charges that she had taken speeding points on her ex-husband’s behalf.

Mrs Horman said: “This defence comes from a time when women were considered to be the property of their husbands and had to do as they were told.

“It presupposes that women are weak, and cannot possibly defy the instructions of their husbands even when she knows that to do so would be a criminal offence.

“I am a passionate advocate for women’s rights but feel that this defence is just insulting.

“For a start, it is only open to women and not men, even though we know that men can be victims of domestic abuse from their female partners.

“Secondly it is only open to married women and not in cases where the couple may have co-habited for many years.”

She added that it would be far fairer for all concerned to repeal the defence of marital duress and replace it with a modernisation of the defence of duress which is open to all.