Beckles v The United Kingdom: ECHR 8 Oct 2002

The applicant had been convicted of serious offences, in part in reliance upon inferences drawn from his partial silence during interview. At trial, he said this had been on legal advice, and was ready to answer questions about that advice, but none were put.
Held: The right of silence was not absolute, but the right against self-incrimination lay at the heart of the notion of a fair trial. A conviction could not be based solely on inferences drawn from silence, but he could be expected to answer questions, where the situation clearly called for his explanation. In this case, the judge did not give the jury sufficiently clear direction on the accused’s explanation of why he had not answered questions, and had undermined that evidence. There had been a violation of his art 6.1 rights. ‘whether the drawing of adverse inferences from an accused’s silence infringes Article 6 is a matter to be determined in the light of all the circumstances of the case, having regard to the situations where inferences may be drawn, the weight attached to them by the national courts in their assessment of the evidence and the degree of compulsion inherent in the situation. Of particular relevance are the terms of the trial judge’s direction to the jury on the issue of adverse inferences’.
Pellonpaa, Bratza, Trdruejo, Palm, Casadevali, Marustem, Paviovschi JJ
Times 15-Oct-2002, 44652/98, (2002) 36 EHRR 162, [2002] ECHR 661, (2003) 36 EHRR 13, 13 BHRC 522
European Convention on Human Rights 6.1
Human Rights
Cited by:
CitedBeckles, Regina v CACD 12-Nov-2004
The appellant had been convicted in 1997 of robbery and false imprisonment. His case was now refererred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The defendant had, on advice from his solicitor refused to answer questions at the police station. The . .
CitedRegina v Boyle and Another CACD 25-Aug-2006
The appellants had been convicted of murder. They complained that the judge had misdirected the jury as to the effect of their silence and the inferences to be drawn.
Held: The appeals failed. Whilst the direction on s34 was defective, it had . .
CitedWebster v Regina CACD 1-Dec-2010
The defendant appealed against his conviction under the 1889 Act for making a corrupt gift to a local government officer. He said that the 1916 Act placed an unfair burden on him to prove that the gift was not corruptly given.
Held: The appeal . .
CitedBlack v Regina CACD 17-Jul-2020
Disclosure Sufficient to Support Inference
The court was asked whether sufficient evidence had been adduced about the strength of the prosecution case at the time of interview, to permit an adverse inference to be drawn from the failure to mention specific facts pursuant to section 34 of the . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 02 July 2021; Ref: scu.177426