Lam Chi-ming v The Queen: PC 1991

The inadmissibility of a confession not proved to be voluntary is perhaps the most fundamental rule of the English criminal law.
Lord Griffiths summarised the justification for the rule excluding evidence obtained improperly. Accepting that ‘a statement can be made as much by demonstration or gesture as by words’ Lord Griffiths said:- ‘the question raised by this appeal is whether that part of a confession which is shown to be reliable by the discovery of the evidence to which it relates may be given in evidence despite the fact that the admission may have been obtained by police brutality which renders inadmissible all other parts of the confession.’ and held: ‘the more recent English cases established that the rejection of an improperly obtained confession is not dependant only upon possible unreliability but also upon the principle that a man cannot be compelled to incriminate himself and upon the importance that attaches in a civilised society to proper behaviour by the police towards those in their custody.’
‘But it is surely just as reprehensible to use improper means to force a man to give information that will reveal he has knowledge that will ensure his conviction as it is to force him to make a full confession. In either case a man is being forced into a course of action that will result in his conviction: he is being forced to incriminate himself. The privilege against self-incrimination is deep rooted in English law and it would make a grave inroad upon it if the police were to believe that if they improperly extracted admissions from an accused which were subsequently shown to be true they could use those admissions against the accused for the purpose of obtaining a conviction.’
‘Without this evidence there was nothing to link the defendants to the murder weapon and the prosecution do not seek to uphold the convictions in the absence of such evidence.’
Lord Griffiths
[1991] 2 AC 212, [1991] 3 All ER 172, (1991) 93 Cr App R 358, [1991] 2 WLR 1082
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedA and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) HL 8-Dec-2005
The applicants had been detained following the issue of certificates issued by the respondent that they posed a terrorist threat. They challenged the decisions of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission saying that evidence underlying the . .
CitedCletus Timothy, Dexter Reid and Sheldon Lewis v The State PC 22-Apr-1999
PC (Trinidad and Tobago) The defendants appealed their convictions for murder. They asserted that the police had extracted confessions by torture, and that other evidence had been obtained by oppression.
CitedMohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 1) Admn 21-Aug-2008
The claimant had been detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay suspected of terrorist involvement. He sought to support his defence documents from the respondent which showed that the evidence to be relied on in the US courts had been obtained by . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 12 January 2021; Ref: scu.235913