Freeman v Home Office (No 2): CA 1984

A prisoner brought an action in battery against a prison doctor for administering drugs to him by injection. He argued that he was incapable of consenting to the procedure because he was in the defendant’s custody. . He failed at trial.
Held: The appeal was dismissed. The fact of imprisonment does not deprive a prisoner of his autonomy. In an allegation of assault, and in relation to the defence of consent, the burden of proving the absence of consent lies on the claimant.
The court cited with approval the view of McCowan J at first instance: ‘The right approach, in my judgment, is to say that where, in a prison setting, a doctor has the power to influence a prisoner’s situation and prospects a court must be alive to the risk that what may appear, on the face of it, to be real consent is not in fact so. I have borne that in mind throughout the case.’


Stephen Brown LJ and Sir John Donaldson MR


[1984] QB 524, (1984) 81 LSG 1045, [1984] 1 All ER 1036, [1984] 2 WLR 802


England and Wales


CitedSidaway v Board of Governors of the Bethlem Royal Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital HL 21-Feb-1985
Explanation of Medical Risks essential
The plaintiff alleged negligence in the failure by a surgeon to disclose or explain to her the risks inherent in the operation which he had advised.
Held: The appeal failed. A mentally competent patient has an absolute right to refuse to . .

Cited by:

CitedCommissioner of Police for the Metropolis v Reeves (Joint Administratix of The Estate of Martin Lynch, Deceased) HL 15-Jul-1999
The deceased was a prisoner known to be at risk of committing suicide. Whilst in police custody he hanged himself in his prison cell. The Commissioner accepted that he was in breach of his duty of care to the deceased, but not that that breach was . .
CitedAshley and Another v Sussex Police CA 27-Jul-2006
The deceased was shot by police officers raiding his flat in 1998. The claimants sought damages for his estate. They had succeeded in claiming damages for false imprisonment, but now appealed dismissal of their claim for damages for assault and . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Prisons, Torts – Other

Updated: 24 April 2022; Ref: scu.235779