Moulton v Chief Constable of The West Midlands: CA 13 May 2010

The claimant appealed against dismissal of his claim for damages for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office. He had been arrested and held on allegations of serious sexual assaults, but then released when the matter came to the Crown Court. He said that the officers had failed properly to investigate the matter. Though the judge was critical of the investigation, the failings did not establish the breaches complained of.
Held: The appeal failed. The validity of the decision to charge is a question as to the subjective state of the officer’s mind. The inconsistencies shown were not sufficient at that stage to displace the officer’s honest belief. No reason for discontinuance arose until the day on which it in fact occurred. The police failure to submit specimens for forensic examination was dilatoriness, not malice. At all times the officers believed in the truth of the allegations.
Smith LJ answered the the appellant’s submission that: ‘an objective examination of the evidence, if scrupulously careful, would have revealed a number of inconsistencies within the evidence and a number of matters which required clarification. But such examination would not in my view have led a conscientious police officer to any view other than that the appellant was probably guilty. I would hold that the judge was right to hold that there was reasonable and probable cause to commence the prosecution.’
Smith LJ, Wilson LJ, Baron J
[2010] EWCA Civ 524
England and Wales
CitedHicks v Faulkner 1878
Before charging a prisoner, a police officer must have ‘an honest belief in the guilt of the accused based upon a full conviction, founded upon reasonable grounds, of the existence of a state of circumstances, which, assuming them to be true, would . .
CitedHerniman v Smith HL 1938
The court considered the tort of malicious prosecution.
Held: It is the duty of a prosecutor to find out not whether there is a possible defence, but whether there is a reasonable and probable cause for prosecution. The House approved the . .
CitedElguzouli-Daf v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Another CA 16-Nov-1994
The Court upheld decisions striking out actions for negligence brought by claimants who had been arrested and held in custody during criminal investigations which were later discontinued. The Crown Prosecution Service owes no general duty of care to . .
CitedHill v Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Services Board 4-Oct-2007
Canlii Supreme Court of Canada – Torts – Negligence – Duty of care – Police investigation – Whether police owe duty of care to suspects in criminal investigations – If so, standard of care required by police . .

Cited by:
CitedHowarth v Gwent Constabulary and Another QBD 1-Nov-2011
The claimant alleged malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office against the defendant. He had been charged with perverting the course of justice. He had worked for a firm of solicitors specialising in defending road traffic prosecutions. . .
CitedMotasim v Crown Prosecution Service and Others QBD 15-Aug-2017
The claimant had been arrested on suspicion of terrorism, from his innocent association with people later convicted of terrorism. The defendant discovered evidence which would undermine the case against him, but refuse to disclose it. Eventually, . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 24 February 2021; Ref: scu.414949