Jade’s Law, a new piece of legislation introduced to protect children, in circumstances where one of their parents was killed by the other, was recently passed by Parliament.

Jade’s Law (officially the amended Victims and Prisoners Bill), suspends the parental responsibility of parents who are convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter of someone they share parental responsibility with. This removes convicted individuals from having any say over decisions for their child(ren), like schooling, medical care and travel abroad, among others. Victims of domestic abuse who kill their abusers will be exempt from this legislation.

‘Jade’s Law’, is named in memory of the late Jade Ward, who was cruelly murdered by her partner Russell Marsh in 2021. Mr Marsh was handed a life sentence, but retained his parental responsibility for the children he shared with Ms Ward.

Following his sentencing, Russell Marsh contacted the Ward family requesting photos of the children and their school reports, which prompted a campaign by friends and family to remove his rights over the children.

Prior to the passing of Jade’s Law, bereaved relatives would have to apply to the Family Court for the removal of parental responsibility, as this was not done automatically – undoubtably adding further stress to an already traumatic time.

Edwin Duggan, a family friend of Ms Ward, played a pivotal role in campaigning for this legislation. He commented following the passing of Jade’s Law, “I feel really proud that it’s finally been passed. It’s been a long journey over the last couple of years.”

Unfortunately, this legislation cannot be imposed retrospectively on prisoners already convicted of the relevant crimes. This means, despite their efforts, this law does not apply to Russell Marsh, at present.

Mr Duggan continued, “I’ll continue to lobby MPs to make it retrospective”.

As a Firm, we welcome the introduction of this legislation and believe it is a positive step forward for the protection of children, in such horrific circumstances. We would like to express our admiration for the friends and family of Ms Ward, who battled hard to pass this much-needed legislation.