Police officers (among others) are immune from any action that may be brought against them on the ground that things said or done by them in the ordinary course of the proceedings were said or done falsely and maliciously and without reasonable and probable cause.
Kelly CB said that: ‘The authorities are clear, uniform and conclusive, that no action lies against parties or witnesses for anything said or done, although falsely and maliciously and without any reasonable or probable cause, in the ordinary course of any proceedingbefore any court or tribunal recognized by law.’
Witnesses before tribunals recognised by law should ‘give their testimony free from any fear of being harassed by an action on an allegation, whether true or false, that they acted from malice’.’
(1873) LR 8 QB 255
Appeal from – Dawkins v Lord Rokeby 1866
Approved – Darker v Chief Constable of The West Midlands Police HL 1-Aug-2000
The plaintiffs had been indicted on counts alleging conspiracy to import drugs and conspiracy to forge traveller’s cheques. During the criminal trial it emerged that there had been such inadequate disclosure by the police that the proceedings were . .
Cited – Trapp v Mackie HL 1979
Dr Trapp had been dismissed from his post by the Aberdeenshire Education Committee of which Mr Mackie was chairman. Dr Trapp petitioned the Secretary of State for an inquiry into the reasons for his dismissal. An inquiry was set up, and in the . .
Appeal from – Dawkins v Lord Rokeby HL 1875
The court unanimously confirmed the judgment of the lower court and expressly adopted the reasoning given. Witnesses before tribunals recognised by law should be able to ‘give their testimony free from any fear of being harassed by an action on an . .
Cited – Heath v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis CA 20-Jul-2004
The female civilian officer alleged sex discrimination against her by a police officer. Her complaint was heard at an internal disciplinary. She alleged sexual harrassment, and was further humiliated by the all male board’s treatment of her . .
Cited – Watson v M’Ewan HL 1905
A claim was brought against a medical witness in respect of statements made in preparation of a witness statement and similar statements subsequently made in court. The appellant was a doctor of medicine who had been retained by the respondent in . .
Cited – General Medical Council v Professor Sir Roy Meadow, Attorney General CA 26-Oct-2006
The GMC appealed against the dismissal of its proceedings for professional misconduct against the respondent doctor, whose expert evidence to a criminal court was the subject of complaint. The doctor said that the evidence given by him was . .
Cited – Silcott v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis CA 24-May-1996
The claimant had been convicted of the murder of PC Blakelock. The only substantial evidence was in the form of the notes of interview he said were fabricated by senior officers. His eventual appeal on this basis was not resisted. He now appealed . .
Cited – Jones v Kaney SC 30-Mar-2011
An expert witness admitted signing a joint report but without agreeing to it. The claimant who had lost his case now pursued her in negligence. The claimant appealed against a finding that the expert witness was immune from action.
Held: The . .
Cited – White v Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust and Another QBD 1-Apr-2011
The claimant doctor sued in defamation for letters written by the defendants to the Fitness to Practice Directorate. She now sought to appeal against a finding that she could not rely upon one letter which had come to her attention through . .
Cited – Cabassi v Vila 12-Dec-1940
High Court of Australia – The claim sought to sidestep the rule giving immuity to witnesses before a court by alleging a conspiracy to give false evidence.
Held: Starke J said: ‘But it does not matter whether the action is framed as an action . .
Cited – Singh v Moorlands Primary School and Another CA 25-Jul-2013
The claimant was a non-white head teacher, alleging that her school governors and local authority had undermined and had ‘deliberately endorsed a targeted campaign of discrimination, bullying, harassment and victimisation’ against her as an Asian . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Police, Litigation Practice
Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.184729