The respondent was arrested by a police officer who mistakenly believed that he was in unlawful possession of a car. He was taken to a police station for questioning but after he had been cleared of that suspicion the police officer told the respondent that he had reason to suspect that he was unlawfully resident in the United Kingdom. The respondent falsely stated that he was born in the United Kingdom, that he was a British subject and that he possessed a British passport. The respondent was arrested as a suspected illegal entrant or resident and charged under s 26(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1971 with having made a false statement to ‘an immigration officer or other person lawfully acting in the execution of [the] Act’. The police officer claimed to be a ‘person lawfully acting in the execution of [the] Act’. The respondent was convicted by magistrates but the Crown Court quashed the conviction. An appeal by the Crown to the Divisional Court was dismissed and the Crown appealed to the House of Lords.
Held — On the true construction of s 26(1)(c) of the 1971 Act a person could only claim to be ‘acting in the execution of [the] Act’ if he was acting in the performance of a duty imposed by, or in the exercise of a power conferred by, that Act and an offence under s 26(1)(c) was committed only if the false statement was addressed to a person in the course of a specific procedure under the Act in which that person’s statutory function involved the obtaining or receipt of information relevant to the performance of that function. Since the police officer had not been acting in the execution of functions conferred on him by or under the 1971 Act when questioning the respondent even though he had reasonable cause to suspect that an offence under the Act had been committed, the officer had not been ‘lawfully acting in the execution of [the] Act’. It followed that the Crown’s appeal would be dismissed (
Scarman, Diplock, Bridge of Harwich, Brandon of Oakwood, Brightman LL
 UKHL 14,  Crim LR 666,  3 WLR 113,  1 AC 1037, 81 Cr App Rep 220,  2 All ER 777
Immigration Act 1971 26(1)(c)
England and Wales
Updated: 10 January 2022; Ref: scu.559760