McIlkenny v Chief Constable of the West Midlands: CA 1980

The appellant had been convicted of an IRA bombing, causing loss of many lives. The appellant and his other co-accused alleged that their confessions had been induced by police violence. The trial judge ruled that their confessions were voluntary and they were accordingly convicted. The appellant now brought a civil claim against the police for damages for assault based on the alleged violence inflicted in the course of extracting his confession.
Held: Prima facie, re-litigation of an issue which has previously been finally decided by a court of competent jurisdiction is an abuse of process.
The court refused to allow the case to go ahead because the allegations were so serious they could not be believed. Lord Denning MR said: ‘This is such an appalling vista that every sensible person in the land would say: It cannot be right that these actions should go any further’.
The Court of Appeal has no function or power to make a pronouncement of innocence. It may observe that the effect of the material considered in the course of the appeal is demonstrative of innocence but it has no statutory function to make a finding to that effect.
Lord Denning MR said: ‘It has long been recognised that estoppel per rem judicatam or issue estoppel is not an absolute bar to the matter in dispute being tried again. The party concerned can avoid the effect of the previous decision if he can prove the same to have been obtained by fraud or collusion. That was the unanimous opinion of the judges in the Duchess of Kingston’s Case. To which we can add now that the party concerned can avoid the effect of the previous decision if he can show that a new fact has come to light (which he could not have ascertained before by reasonable diligence) which entirely changes the aspect of the case: see Phosphate Sewage Co Ltd v Molleson (1879) 4 App Cas 801, 814 per Earl Cairns LC. This is a much stricter test than we require when we admit fresh evidence on an appeal.’
Reginald Goff LJ said: ‘In my judgment, however, where the issue at the first trial was which of two parties or their witnesses was committing perjury, it is not sufficient merely to aver that the judgment was obtained by perjury since that is no more than to say the decision ought to have gone the other way. There must be sufficient fresh evidence to support the allegation.’

Lord Denning MR, Reginald Goff LJ, Sir George Baker
[1980] QB 283, [1980] 2 All ER 227, [1980] 2 WLR 689
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedRegina v Connor and another; Regina v Mirza HL 22-Jan-2004
Extension of Inquiries into Jury Room Activities
The defendants sought an enquiry as to events in the jury rooms on their trials. They said that the secrecy of a jury’s deliberations did not fit the human right to a fair trial. In one case, it was said that jurors believed that the defendant’s use . .
Appeal fromHunter v Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police HL 19-Nov-1981
No collateral attack on Jury findigs.
An attempt was made to open up in a civil action, allegations of assaults by the police prior to the making of confessions which had been disposed of in a voir dire in the course of a criminal trial. The plaintiffs had imprisoned having spent many . .
CitedAdams, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 11-May-2011
The three claimants had each been convicted of murders and served time. Their convictions had been reversed eventually, and they now appealed against the refusal of compensation for imprisonment, saying that there had been a miscarriage of justice. . .
CitedNunn v Suffolk Constabulary and Another Admn 4-May-2012
The claimant had been convicted of murder and his appeal had failed. He now sought disclosure of the forensic material held by the police to his own legal team.
Held: Permission to apply for review was granted, but the claim failed. ‘It is . .
CitedTakhar v Gracefield Developments Ltd and Others SC 20-Mar-2019
The claimant appellant alleged that properties she owned were transferred to the first defendant under undue influence or other unconscionable conduct by the second and third defendants. The claim was dismissed. Three years later she claimed to set . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Police, Torts – Other, Estoppel

Updated: 21 January 2022; Ref: scu.192247