Montgomery and Coulter v Her Majesty’s Advocate: PC 19 Oct 2000

The test of whether a defendant’s common law right to a fair trial had been damaged by pre-trial publicity was similar to the test under the Convention, and also where there was any plea of oppression. The substantial difference is that no balancing exercise was to be carried out under the Convention test. The right to a fair trial is absolute, and unqualified. It was not to be subordinated to the public interest in the detection and suppression of crime. The Court need not look only at the effect on the jurors, but could also allow for the part which the judge would play. A question of Scottish criminal law and procedure falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court of Justiciary. Lord Hoffmann said: ‘events before the trial may create the conditions for an unfair determination of the charge. For example, an accused who is convicted on evidence obtained from him by torture has not had a fair trial. But the breach of Article 6(1) lies not in the use of torture (which is, separately, a breach of Article 3) but in the reception of the evidence by the court for the purposes of determining the charge. If the evidence had been rejected, there would still have been a breach of Article 3 but no breach of Article 6(1).’


Lord Hoffmann


Times 06-Dec-2000, DRA Nos 1 and 2 of 2000, [2003] 1 AC 641, 2001 SLT 37, [2000] UKHL D1, 2002 SC (PC) 89, 2000 GWD 40-1487, 9 BHRC 641, [2001] UKHRR 124, [2001] 2 WLR 779, 2000 SCCR 1044


PC, Bailii


European Convention on Human Rights 6(1)




Appeal fromHer Majesty’s Advocate v Montgomery and Coulter HCJ 14-Sep-1999
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Cited by:

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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 . .
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The doctor requested members of the disciplinary tribunal to recuse themselves when, after the first day of the hearing they saw prejudicial material in newspapers which material was not in evidence. They had further declined to allow an adjournment . .
CitedGary Follen v Her Majesty’s Advocate PC 8-Mar-2001
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The Government of France sought the extradition of Ramda wanted by them for trial in connection with a series of terrorist bombings in France. The applicant resisted extradition to France on the ground that the evidence which would be relied on . .
CitedA, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, Mahmoud Abu Rideh Jamal Ajouaou v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 11-Aug-2004
The claimants had each been detained without trial for more than two years, being held as suspected terrorists. They were free leave to return to their own countries, but they feared for their lives if returned. They complained that the evidence . .
CitedA and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) HL 8-Dec-2005
Evidence from 3rd Party Torture Inadmissible
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 . .
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CitedAttorney General’s Reference No 3 of 1999: Application By the British Broadcasting Corporation To Set Aside or Vary a Reporting Restriction Order HL 17-Jun-2009
An application was made to discharge an anonymity order made in previous criminal proceedings before the House. The defendant was to be retried for rape under the 2003 Act, after an earlier acquittal. The applicant questioned whether such a order . .
CitedMcInnes v Her Majesty’s Advocate SC 10-Feb-2010
The defendant complained that the prosecution had not disclosed the fact that a prosecution witness had convictions, and that had it been disclosed it would have undermined the prosecution. Other statements taken were not disclosed as had later . .
CitedHM Attorney General v MGN Ltd and Another Admn 29-Jul-2011
The police arrested a man on suspicion of the murder of a young woman. He was later released and exonerated, and a second man arrested and later convicted. Whilst the first was in custody the two defendant newspapers, the Daily Mirror and the Sun . .
CitedMcGowan (Procurator Fiscal) v B SC 23-Nov-2011
The appellant complained that after arrest, though he had been advised of his right to legal advice, and had declined the offer, it was still wrong to have his subsequent interview relied upon at his trial.
Held: It was not incompatible with . .
CitedRegina v Kansal (2) HL 29-Nov-2001
The prosecutor had lead and relied at trial on evidence obtained by compulsory questioning under the 1986 Act.
Held: In doing so the prosecutor was acting to give effect to section 433.
The decision in Lambert to disallow retrospective . .
CitedHM Attorney General v Yaxley-Lennon QBD 9-Jul-2019
Application by Her Majesty’s Attorney General for an order committing the respondent to prison for contempt of court. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice, Human Rights, Media, Contempt of Court

Updated: 19 July 2022; Ref: scu.163266