Director of Public Prosecutions v Armstrong-Braun: Admn 5 Oct 1998

A building site was subject to a requirement to move great crested newts before work could proceed. The defendant, a local councillor interfered to prevent a digger destroying the land until the newts had been moved. He appealed his conviction for assault, saying he had acted lawfully in attempting to prevent a crime.
Held: The test of what is reasonable force for self defence was what was objectively reasonable in the light of the actual subjective belief of the defendant as to the circumstances in which he found himself. Sedley LJ said: ‘while an act done in self defence does not lose the protection of the law because the perceived threat turns out not to have been real, what is done in answer to the perceived threat is to be judged by a judicial appraisal of its reasonableness in all the circumstances which, by definition, include the defendant’s honest belief as to the danger he is in.’


Brooke LJ, Sedley LJ


Times 26-Oct-1998, [1998] EWHC Admin 918


England and Wales


CitedBeckford v The Queen PC 15-Jun-1987
(Jamaica) Self defence permits a defendant to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances as he honestly believed them to be. ‘If then a genuine belief, albeit without reasonable grounds, is a defence to rape because it negatives the . .
CitedRegina v Kimber CACD 1983
For mens rea, it is the defendant’s belief, not the grounds on which it is based, which goes to negative the intent. The guilty state of mind was the intent to use personal violence to a woman without her consent. If the defendant did not so intend, . .
CitedRegina v Scarlett CACD 18-May-1993
The force used by the defendant in self defence was justified even though there was a mistake as to the extent to which force was required. ‘If the mental element necessary to prove an assault is an intention to apply unlawful force to the victim, . .
CitedRegina v Williams (Gladstone) CACD 28-Nov-1983
The defendant believed that the person whom he assaulted was unlawfully assaulting a third party. That person was a police officer, who said he was arresting the other, but did not show his warrant card.
Held: The court considered the issue of . .
CitedRegina v Venna CACD 31-Jul-1975
An assault is an act by which the defendant intentionally or recklessly causes the complainant to apprehend immediate, or to sustain, unlawful personal violence. The jury ought to be directed that the defendant cannot be guilty of an assault unless . .
ApprovedRegina v Owino CACD 1996
The court considered the degree of force a defendant could use in self defence: The test of the appropriate degree of force a person was entitled to use in self-defence was not any degree of force which he believed was reasonable, however well or . .
CitedRegina v Chisam CCA 1963
A defendant’s belief founding a plea of self defence must be both honest and reasonable. A sufficient justification was established if the accused genuinely believed on reasonable grounds that a relative or friend was in imminent danger of injury, . .

Cited by:

See AlsoRegina v Flintshire County Council, Ex Parte Armstrong-Braun CA 20-Feb-2001
A local council introduced a standing order to the effect that an item could not be placed on an agenda without being seconded. In doing so it had failed entirely to consider the fundamental effect this would have on democracy. Independent members . .
See AlsoRegina v Flintshire County Council ex parte Armstrong-Braun Admn 27-Jul-1999
. .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 21 August 2022; Ref: scu.79988