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Lawyer warns of dangers in changes on forced marriage

Scotland’s planned adoption of England’s laws on forced marriage have been described as “dangerous” and “retrograde” by a leading expert.

The warning comes as the ­Scottish Government draws up plans to amend its forced marriages legislation introduced in 2011, following a recent European ruling.

A new report has shown women’s support agencies in ­Scotland have experienced a significant increase in referrals, and follows the rare testimony of a victim in yesterday’s Sunday Herald.

Lawyer John Fotheringham, who was one of the leading ­proponents of the 2011 legislation, said: “This will stop the victims of forced marriage seeking a nullity because it would criminalise the family. We are failing the victims if we go down this route and it could be dangerous for them. “Under the current law, the ­criminality lies in breaching an order. The order itself can be drawn very flexibly.

Mr Fotheringham, an associate with bto solicitors, said: “This [change] is a retrograde step. The point of the Scottish position is that a young person will be dissuaded from seeking an order if the order itself will criminalise members of her family.”


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