The defendants faced trial on charges of false accounting in connection in different ways with their expenses claims whilst serving as members of the House of Commons. They appealed against rejection of their assertion that the court had no jurisdiction to try them because of parliamentary privilege.
Held: The appeals were dismissed. Neither Article 9 nor the exclusive jurisdiction of the House of Commons poses any bar to the jurisdiction of the Crown Court to try the Appellants.
Article 9 is concerned primarily to ensure the freedom of speech and debate within the Houses of Parliament and its committees. To have the benefit of privilege an activity must be such that its absence would impact adversely on the Houses’ core or essential businesses. The claiming of expenses did not fall within that category.
As to the exclusive jurisdiction argument this had now been substantially abandoned by Parliament both as to administrative matters such as these and even as to criminal acts within the Houses.
Lord Phillips considered the concept of ‘exclusive cognisance’, saying: ‘This phrase describes areas where the courts have ruled that any issues should be left to be resolved by Parliament rather than determined judicially. Exclusive cognisance refers not simply to Parliament, but to the exclusive right of each House to manage its own affairs without interference from the other or from outside Parliament. The boundaries of exclusive cognisance result from accord between the two Houses and the courts as to what falls within the exclusive province of the former. Unlike the absolute privilege imposed by article 9, exclusive cognisance can be waived or relinquished by Parliament.’
Lord Phillips, President, Lord Hope, Deputy President, Lord Rodger, Lady Hale, Lord Brown, Lord Mance, Lord Collins, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke
 UKSC 52,  WLR (D) 311, UKSC 2010/0195,  1 Cr App R 22,  3 WLR 1707,  1 All ER 805,  1 AC 684
Bailii, Bailli Summary, WLRD, SC Summary, SC
Theft Act 1968 17(1)(b), Bill of Rights 1689 9
England and Wales
At Crown Court – Regina v Morley; Regina v Chaytor; Regina v Devine; Regina v Lord Hanningfield CC 11-Jun-2010
(Southwark Crown Court) The defendants faced charges of false accounting in connection with expense claims as members of parliament, three of the House of Commons and one of the Lords. Each claimed that the matter was covered by Parliamentary . .
Cited – Rex v Eliot, Hollis and Valentine 1629
Proceedings were taken in the King’s Bench against three members of the House of Commons, who were charged with seditious speeches, contempt of the King (Charles I) in resisting the adjournment of the House and with conspiracy to keep the Speaker in . .
Cited – Rex v Lord Abingdon 1794
A Member of Parliament chose to have his earlier speech in the House re-published ‘under his authority and sanction . . and at his expense’.
Held: Statements made outside Parliament are not protected by absolute privilege even if they simply . .
Cited – Rex v Creevey Esq MP 1813
A statement made out of Parliament is not to be protected by its absolute privilege even if what is said simply repeats what was said inside the House.
A member of the House of Commons may be convicted upon an indictment for a libel in . .
Cited – Stockdale v Hansard 1839
Bailii It is no defence in law to an action for publishing a libel, that defamatory matter is part of a order of the House of Commons, laid before the House, and thereupon became part of the proceedings of the . .
Cited – Wason v Walter; ex parte Wason QBD 1868
Defamation proceedings were begun in respect of newspaper reports of debates in Parliament.
Held: By analogy with reports of judicial proceedings, that fair and accurate reports of parliamentary proceedings were privileged. It was of paramount . .
Cited – Rex v Bunting 1885
Conspiracy to Bribe is Common Law Offence
(Supreme Court of Ontario) A conspiracy to bring about a change in the Government of Ontario by bribing members of the Legislative Assembly to vote against the Government was an indictable offence at common law committed at the time of the . .
Cited – Curistan v Times Newspapers Ltd CA 30-Apr-2008
The court considered the availability of qualified privilege for reporting of statements made in parliament and the actionable meaning of the article, which comprised in part those statements and in part other factual material representing the . .
Cited – Bradlaugh v Gossett 9-Feb-1884
Bradlaugh, though duly elected Member for a Borough, was refused by the Speaker to administer oath and was excluded from the House by the serjeant at arms. B challenged the action.
Held: The matter related to the internal management of the . .
Cited – Attorney-General of Ceylon v de Livera PC 1963
A member of the House of Representatives was offered 5,000 rupees for writing to the Minister of Lands and Development withdrawing an application previously made to the Minister to acquire an estate. The offeror was found guilty of offering a . .
Cited – Stopforth v Goyer 1978
(High Court of Ontario) A claim was made for defamation in remarks made by the defendant about the plaintiff to media representative who were present in parliament, just after he left the Ottawa chamber at the conclusion of the question period. The . .
Cited – Jennings v Buchanan PC 14-Jul-2004
(New Zealand) (Attorney General of New Zealand intervening) The defendant MP had made a statement in Parliament which attracted parliamentary privilege. In a subsequent newspaper interview, he said ‘he did not resile from his claim’. He defended the . .
Cited – P V Narashimo Rao v State 17-Apr-1998
(Supreme Court of India) Members of Parliament were protected by privilege from prosecution for bribery in respect of voting in parliamentary proceedings. . .
Cited – Prebble v Television New Zealand Ltd PC 27-Jun-1994
(New Zealand) The plaintiff, an MP, pursued a defamation case. The defendant wished to argue for the truth of what was said, and sought to base his argument on things said in Parliament. The plaintiff responded that this would be a breach of . .
Cited – Hutchinson v Proxmire 26-Jun-1979
(United States Supreme Court) The petitioner had been funded by the state to carry out research on aggression in certain animals, particularly monkeys. He complained of criticism of his work decsribing it as wasteful.
Held: Efforts to . .
Cited – Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart HL 26-Nov-1992
Reference to Parliamentary Papers behind Statute
The inspector sought to tax the benefits in kind received by teachers at a private school in having their children educated at the school for free. Having agreed this was a taxable emolument, it was argued as to whether the taxable benefit was the . .
Cited – Wellesley v Duke of Beaufort 1827
A member of Parliament claimed parliamentary immunity from the consequences of having abducted his child.
Held: The court discussed the origins of the court’s inherent jurisdiction over children and the infirm. Lord Eldon LC said: it belongs . .
Cited – Wellesley v The Duke Of Beaufort; Mr Long Wellesley’s Case 28-Jul-1831
A member of Parliament asserted parliamentary immunity from the consequences of having abducted his child. Lord Brougham LC said: ‘how incumbent it is upon the courts of law to defend their high and sacred duty of guarding the lives, the liberties, . .
Cited – Edward Kielley v William Carson, John Kent, And Others PC 23-May-1842
The House of Assembly of the Island of Newfoundland does not possess, as a legal incident, the power of arrest, with a view of adjudication on a contempt committed out of the House; but only such powers as are reasonably necessary for the proper . .
Cited – Regina v Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Ex Parte Al-Fayed CA 5-Nov-1997
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards had published a report relating to a complaint by the applicant against a Member of Parliament.
Held: The applicant sought permission to challenge this by judicial review. The applicant’s appeal . .
Cited – Rex v Graham-Campbell, Ex parte Herbert 1935
Mr A P Herbert had laid two informations at Bow Street Police Station for summonses against fifteen named Members of Parliament, who were members of the Kitchen Committee of the House of Commons and the manager of the Refreshment Department of the . .
Cited – Demicoli v Malta ECHR 27-Aug-1991
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection rejected (six month period); Violation of Art. 6-1; Pecuniary damage – claim rejected; Non-pecuniary damage – finding of violation sufficient; . .
Cited – McGuinness, Re Application for Judicial Review QBNI 3-Oct-1997
The claimant was an MP from Northern Ireland. As an MP he had been required to swear allegiance to the Crown, but he had refused to do so for his belief in an independent Ireland. He challenged the decision of the Speaker of the House to refuse him . .
Appeal from – Chaytor and Others, Regina v CACD 30-Jul-2010
The defendants had been members of the Houses of Commons and of Lords. They faced charges of dishonesty in respect of their expenses claims. They now appealed a finding that they were not subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament under . .
Cited – Mereworth v Ministry of Justice ChD 23-May-2011
The claimant’s father had been granted the hereditary title of Baron of Mereworth. The claimant having inherited the title objected to the refusal to issue to him a writ of summons to sit in the House of Lords.
Held: The claim was struck out . .
Cited – Kimathi and Others v Foreign and Commonwealth Office QBD 20-Dec-2017
Parliamentary privilege The claimants sought to have admitted as evidence extracts from Hansard in support of their claim for damages arising from historic claims.
Held: The court set out the authorities and made orders as to each element. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.426896