Goldstein, Rimmington v Regina: CACD 28 Nov 2003

Two defendants appealed in respect of alleged offences under common law of causing a public nuisance. One had sent race hatred material, and the other bomb hoaxes, through the post. Both claimed that the offence was so ill defined as to be an infringement of their rights.
Held: The offence of causing a public nuisance remained an offence at common law. The elements were set out clearly, and a person could so regulate his behaviour as not to commit the offence. It was therefore sufficiently certain not to be an infringement of the defendants’ rights. It was a proper and proportionate response to the need to provide against the acts complained of.


Mr Justice Moses Lord Justice Latham Sir Edwin Jowitt


[2003] EWCA Crim 3450, Times 17-Dec-2003, [2004] 1 WLR 2878, [2004] 1 Cr App R 388, [2004] 2 All ER 589, [2004] Crim LR 303




European Convention on Human Rights


CitedAttorney-General v PYA Quarries Ltd CA 1957
In a relator action, an injunction was sought to prevent the respondent from emitting quantities of dust from their quarry. The court had to decide what were the constituents of the offence of a public nuisance, and how this differed from a private . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecution v Withers HL 20-Nov-1974
The House was asked to consider whether there existed the crime of a conspiracy to commit a public mischief.
Held: There was no such crime, since it was so undefined as to be unfair to any defendant. Although at common law no clear distinction . .
CitedRegina v Shorrock CACD 1993
The defendants used land for an unauthorised ‘acid party’ which caused substantial inconvenience and disruption to neighbours. The defendant denied that he had had the requisite knowledge to be criminally liable.
Held: This was capable of . .
CitedRegina v Johnson CACD 14-May-1996
The defendant had used public telephones to cause nuisance, annoyance, harassment, alarm and distress. He had made hundreds of obscene telephone calls to at least 13 women, and was convicted of causing a public nuisance. He argued that no call . .
CitedRegina v Madden CACD 1975
The court considered an appeal against a conviction for causing a public nuisance by the making of bomb hoax telephone call to a steel works. The message was received by a telephonist, who informed the engineer and also the police. The police . .
CitedThe Sunday Times (No 1) v The United Kingdom ECHR 26-Apr-1979
Offence must be ;in accordance with law’
The court considered the meaning of the need for an offence to be ‘in accordance with law.’ The applicants did not argue that the expression prescribed by law required legislation in every case, but contended that legislation was required only where . .
CitedHandyside v The United Kingdom ECHR 7-Dec-1976
Freedom of Expression is Fundamental to Society
The appellant had published a ‘Little Red Schoolbook’. He was convicted under the 1959 and 1964 Acts on the basis that the book was obscene, it tending to deprave and corrupt its target audience, children. The book claimed that it was intended to . .
CitedX Ltd and Y Ltd v United Kingdom ECHR 1982
The Commission considered the common law offence of blasphemous libel as an offence defined under common law rather than statute law.
Held: ‘The Commission considers that the same principles also apply to the interpretation and application of . .
CitedS and G v United Kingdom ECHR 2-Sep-1991
The Commission considered the common law offence of outraging public decency alleged to have been committed by an artist and art gallery curator who had exhibited a model with freeze dried human foetuses as earrings. Recognising that freedom of . .
CitedWingrove v The United Kingdom ECHR 25-Nov-1996
The applicant had been refused a certification certificate for his video ‘Visions of Ecstasy’ on the basis that it infringed the criminal law of blasphemy. The Court found that the offence was prescribed by law and served the legitimate aim of . .
CitedMuller And Others v Switzerland ECHR 24-May-1988
The Court considered a complaint that Article 10 had been infringed by the applicant’s conviction of an offence of publishing obscene items, consisting of paintings which were said ‘mostly to offend the sense of sexual propriety of persons of . .

Cited by:

Appeal fromRegina v Rimmington; Regina v Goldstein HL 21-Jul-2005
Common Law – Public Nuisance – Extent
The House considered the elements of the common law offence of public nuisance. One defendant faced accusations of having sent racially offensive materials to individuals. The second was accused of sending an envelope including salt to a friend as a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 08 June 2022; Ref: scu.188293