Attorney General’s Reference No. 3 of 1999: HL 14 Dec 2000

An horrific rape had taken place. The defendant was arrested on a separate matter, tried and acquitted. He was tried under a false ID. His DNA sample should have been destroyed but wasn’t. Had his identity been known, his DNA could have been kept because of other convictions. He was arrested for the rape after a DNA match. It was argued that under the 1984 Act, the sample could not be used in evidence against him. The House considered whether the section was mandatory or directory.
Held: The direction to destroy such a sample was mandatory, and the sample should not have been used for the investigation of an offence. However, ‘paragraph (b), in contrast with paragraph (a), does not go on to provide that, in the event of such unlawful use, the results of the investigation shall not be admissible in evidence against the person who was entitled to the destruction of the sample. Nor does it provide that an unlawful investigation shall be null and void or deemed never to have occurred ‘ Any question as to the fairness of the admissibility of the evidence could still be addressed by the court under section 78.
Lord Steyn said this about the various interests which are served by a criminal trial: ‘The purpose of the criminal law is to permit everyone to go about their daily lives without fear of harm to person or property. And it is in the interests of everyone that serious crime should be effectively investigated and prosecuted. There must be fairness to all sides. In a criminal case this requires the court to consider a triangulation of interests. It involves taking into account the position of the accused, the victim and his or her family, and the public.’


Lord Steyn, Lord Cooke of Thorndon, Lord Clyde, Lord Hutton, Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough


[2000] UKHL 71, [2001] 2 AC 91, [2001] 1 All ER 577, [2001] Crim LR 394, [2001] HRLR 16, [2001] 2 WLR 56, [2001] 1 Cr App R 34, [2000] Po LR 386




Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 64(3B), Human Rights Act 1998


England and Wales


CitedKuruma v The Queen PC 8-Dec-1954
(Court of Appeal for Eastern Africa) The defendant appealed against his conviction for unlawful possession of ammunition, saying that the evidence had been obtained by unlawful means, and should not have been admitted against him.
Held: Lord . .
Appeal FromRegina v B (Attorney-General’s Reference No 3 of 1999); Regina v Weir CACD 26-May-2000
Where a defendant gave a sample of DNA during an investigation, but the sample was not destroyed on his acquittal, evidence obtained from a cross match relating to a different crime was not admissible. The statute requires the samples to be . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Home Department Ex Parte Jeyeanthan; Ravichandran v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 21-May-1999
The applicant had failed to comply with the Rules in not using the form prescribed for appliying for leave to appeal against a special adjudicator’s decision to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. The application, by letter, included all the relevant . .
CitedThe Queen v Ireland 1971
(High Court of Australia) Barwick CJ considered the circumstance where, in a criminal trial, a judge was asked to exclude evidence for unfairness: ‘Whenever such unlawfulness or unfairness appears, the judge has a discretion to reject the evidence. . .
CitedLondon and Clydeside Estates v Aberdeen District Council HL 8-Nov-1979
Identifying ‘maandatory’ and ‘regulatory’
The appellants had sought a Certificate of Alternative Development. The certificate provided was defective in that it did not notify the appellants, as required, of their right to appeal. Their appeal out of time was refused.
Held: The House . .
CitedRegina v Khan (Sultan) HL 2-Jul-1996
The police had obtained the evidence against the defendant by fixing a covert listening device at an apartment visited by the defendant, and by recording his conversations there. The defendant appealed, saying that the court should have regard to . .
CitedSchenk v Switzerland ECHR 12-Jul-1988
The applicant had faced charges of hiring someone to kill his wife. He complained about the use of a recording of his telephone conversation with the man he hired recorded unlawfully by that man.
Held: The ECHR does not address issues about . .
CitedFox v Chief Constable of Gwent HL 1986
The driver left an accident. The police entered his home unlawfully, and on his refusal to supply a breath test, he was arrested and charged with faiing to supply.
Held: A lawful arrest is not an essential requirement before a breath test, and . .

Cited by:

See AlsoAttorney General’s Reference No 3 of 1999: Application By the British Broadcasting Corporation To Set Aside or Vary a Reporting Restriction Order HL 17-Jun-2009
An application was made to discharge an anonymity order made in previous criminal proceedings before the House. The defendant was to be retried for rape under the 2003 Act, after an earlier acquittal. The applicant questioned whether such a order . .
CitedMaguire, Re Application for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) SC 21-Mar-2018
The appellant faced a criminal trial. He was granted legal aid for two counsel. He asked for two particular junior counsel, but the certificate required him to instruct leading counsel and a junior. He objected that this deprived him of the right to . .
CitedHutchings, Re Application for Judicial Review SC 6-Jun-2019
The appellant, a former army officer challenged proceedings against him as to the death of a civilian shot in Northern Ireland in 1974. His trial had been certified for trial by judge alone, and without a jury under section 1 of the 2007 Act.
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice, Human Rights, Police

Updated: 23 March 2022; Ref: scu.374690