Porter and Weeks v Magill: HL 13 Dec 2001

Councillors Liable for Unlawful Purposes Use

The defendant local councillors were accused of having sold rather than let council houses in order to encourage an electorate which would be more likely to be supportive of their political party. They had been advised that the policy would be unlawful and leave the authority unable to meet its statutory duties. They complained that the auditor was biased.
Held: They had used powers given to them for the sale of council houses for unlawful purposes, and had known this was unlawful. Accordingly they were properly made liable to make good the financial losses suffered by the council. It was misconduct in a councillor to exercise or be party to the exercise of such powers otherwise than for the public purpose for which they were conferred.
The defendants said that the auditor who had conducted the investigation and prosecution was to be seen as biased, as to which Lord Hope of Craighead said: ‘It was suggested that the auditor’s mode of appointment gave rise to bias. The test of this is whether the circumstances were such that a fair-minded and informed observer might think there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased. That did not apply here. As to the issue of delay, time for this purpose should run from the institution of proceedings until its final disposal.’
Lord Hope approved a statement that a court assessing whether there had been bias, should take all relevant circumstances into account: ‘The ultimate question is whether the proceedings in question were and were seen to be fair. If on examination of all the relevant facts, there was no unfairness or any appearance of unfairness, there is no good reason for the imaginary observer to be used to reach a different conclusion.’

Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Steyn, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough and Lord Scott of Foscote
Times 13-Dec-2001, [2001] UKHL 67, [2002] 2 WLR 37, [2002] 2 AC 357, [2002] 1 All ER 465, [2001] NPC 184, [2002] HRLR 16, [2002] LGR 51
House of Lords, Bailii
Local Government Finance Act 1982 20
England and Wales
CitedIn Re Medicaments and Related Classes of Goods (No 2); Director General of Fair Trading v Proprietary Association of Great Britain and Proprietary Articles Trade Association CA 21-Dec-2000
The claimants alleged that a connection between a member of the Restrictive Practices Court, who was to hear a complaint and another company, disclosed bias against them. She had not recused herself.
Held: When asking whether material . .
Appeal FromWeeks v Magill and Dame Porter v Magill CA 30-Apr-1999
Where local councillors acted with a proper local government purpose, and in accordance with officers’ advice, ulterior motives of electoral advantage did not make the decisions improper. . .
ModifiedRegina v Gough (Robert) HL 1993
The defendant had been convicted of robbery. He appealed, saying that a member of the jury was a neighbour to his brother, and there was therefore a risk of bias. This was of particular significance as the defendant was charged with conspiracy with . .
CitedIn Re Medicaments and Related Classes of Goods (No 2); Director General of Fair Trading v Proprietary Association of Great Britain and Proprietary Articles Trade Association CA 21-Dec-2000
The claimants alleged that a connection between a member of the Restrictive Practices Court, who was to hear a complaint and another company, disclosed bias against them. She had not recused herself.
Held: When asking whether material . .

Cited by:
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A party sought to re-open a judgment on the Court of Appeal after it had been perfected. A case had been tried before a judge. One party had asked for a different judge to be appointed, after the judge disclosed that he had been a client of the firm . .
CitedMason, Wood, McClelland, Tierney v Regina CACD 13-Feb-2002
The appellants appealed their convictions on two grounds. First the judge who had heard the case was an acquaintance of the chief constable of the investigating force, and second evidence had been admitted of tape recordings of non-privileged . .
CitedTaylor v Williamsons (a Firm) CA 17-Jul-2002
The judge concluded hearing evidence, and requested counsel to make their submissions before a certain date. Before that date, and forgetful of his request, he issued his judgement. On realizing his mistake, he withdrew his judgment. The claimant . .
CitedSengupta v Holmes and Others, Lord Chancellor intervening CA 31-Jul-2002
The appellant had applied for leave to appeal to a single judge, who had refused the application. He appealed and was granted leave by two judges. He then objected when the single judge who had refused leave was included in the panel of judges to . .
CitedAA Lawal v Northern Spirit Limited CA 9-Aug-2002
The appellant had had his case considered by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. He complained that his opponent had been represented in court by an advocate who himself sat part time in the EAT, and that this would lead to undue weight and respect . .
CitedRegina v Smith (Lance Percival) CACD 19-Feb-2003
The defendant argued that the judge should have ensured that some members of the jury were black. He was a black man being tried by an all white jury, with a white victim and white witnesses.
Held: The judge had no part to play in the . .
ApprovedLawal v Northern Spirit Limited HL 19-Jun-2003
Counsel appearing at the tribunal had previously sat as a judge with a tribunal member. The opposing party asserted bias in the tribunal.
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CitedPerch, Dennie and Commissiong v The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago PC 20-Feb-2003
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CitedAaron v The Law Society (the Office of the Supervision of Solicitors) QBD 13-Oct-2003
The appellant challenged an order suspending him from practice as a solicitor for two years. He had previous findings of professional misconduct in failing to pay counsels’ fees. In the course of later disciplinary proceedings he was found to have . .
CitedPD, Regina (on the Application of) v West Midlands and North West Mental Health Review Tribunal Admn 22-Oct-2003
The claimant was detained as a mental patient. He complained that a consultant employed by the NHS Trust which detained him, also sat on the panel of the tribunal which heard the review of his detention.
Held: Such proceedings did engage the . .
CitedPilar Aida Rojas v Brian Berllaque PC 10-Nov-2003
PC (Gibraltar) The system of selecting a criminal jury obliged men to be available for selection, but women could choose not to be on the role of jurors. The result was that jury lists and juries were almost . .
CitedCairnstores Ltd Generics (UK) Ltd and Another v Aktiebolaget Hassle CA 22-Oct-2002
Two patents had been invaildated for obviousness. They related to coatings on medicinal pills. The patent holder said the judge’s interruptions indicated bias.
Held: The sumissions were unjustified. The interventions were by no means . .
CitedSingh v The Secretary of State for the Home Department for Judicial Review OHCS 24-Dec-2003
The applicant complained that the adjudicator who had heard his asylum appeal in 1997 had not been sufficiently independent.
Held: The tribunal lacked what had come to be called ‘structural independence’ The common law test for impartiality . .
CitedRegina on the Application of Mahfouz v The Professional Conduct Committee of the General Medical Council CA 5-Mar-2004
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 . .
CitedLodwick v London Borough of Southwark CA 18-Mar-2004
The claimant alleged bias on the part of the employment appeal tribunal chairman hearing his appeal. The chairman refused to stand down, saying that he was only one of three tribunal members with an equal vote. The chairman had four year’s . .
CitedFeld, Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster v London Borough of Barnet, Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster CA 18-Oct-2004
The applicants sought housing as homeless people. After the refusal of their applications, they sought a review, and in due course a second review. That second review was conducted by the same officer who had conducted the first. The appellant . .
CitedAl-Hasan, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 16-Feb-2005
Prisoners were disciplined after refusing to be squat searched, saying that the procedure was humiliating and that there were no reasonable grounds to suspect them of any offence against prison discipline. The officer who had been involved in . .
CitedMeerabux v The Attorney General of Belize PC 23-Mar-2005
(Belize) The applicant complained at his removal as a justice of the Supreme Court, stating it was unconstitutional. The complaint had been decided by a member of the Bar Council which had also recommended his removal, and he said it had been . .
CitedScrivens v Ethical Standards Officer Admn 11-Apr-2005
The councillor appealed an adjudication that he had failed adequately to declare an interest at a meeting of the council. The officer thought the duty to withdraw was entirely objective, the applicant that it was a matter for his honest judgment. At . .
Appeal FromPorter v United Kingdom ECHR 2003
A large surcharge imposed on the applicant was compensatory, not punitive. The criminal limb of article 6 was not engaged. . .
CitedR, Regina (on the Application of) v Durham Constabulary and Another HL 17-Mar-2005
The appellant, a boy aged 15, had been warned as to admitted indecent assaults on girls. He complained that it had not been explained to him that the result would be that his name would be placed on the sex offenders register. The Chief Constable . .
CitedFlaherty v National Greyhound Racing Club Ltd CA 14-Sep-2005
The club regulated greyhound racing. The claimant had complained that its disciplinary proceedings had been conducted unfairly. He said that a panel member had an interest as veterinary surgeon in the proceedings at the stadium at which the alleged . .
CitedGillies v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions HL 26-Jan-2006
The claimant said that the medical member of the tribunal which had heard his disability claim was biased. The doctor was on a temporary contract and also worked for an agency which contracted directly the Benfits Agency. The court of session had . .
CitedMorrison and Another v AWG Group Ltd and Another CA 20-Jan-2006
The defendants requested the judge to recuse himself because one witness was well known to the judge. He declined, saying that arrangements had been made for him not to be called. The defendant appealed.
Held: There was no allegation of actual . .
CitedPort Regis School Ltd, Regina (on the Application of) v Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Society Admn 5-Apr-2006
Complaint was made that the decision of a planning committee had been biased because of the presence on the committee of two freemasons, and where the interests of another Lodge were affected.
Held: The freemasonry interests had been declared. . .
CitedNational Assembly for Wales v Condron and Another CA 27-Nov-2006
The objector had successfully challenged a planning decision saying that a remark by the chairman of the planning committee demonstrated bias and an effective pre-determination of the decision. The committee supported by the developer appealed.
CitedPaul and others v Deputy Coroner of the Queen’s Household and Another Admn 2-Mar-2007
The applicants sought judicial review of preliminary directions given for the intended inquest on the deaths of Diana Princess of Wales and of Dodi Al Fayed. It was submitted that the jurisdiction had been wrongly transferred to the Queen’s Coroner . .
CitedPintori, Regina v CACD 13-Jul-2007
The defendant appealed his conviction for possession of class A drugs, saying that the drugs found had belonged to somebody who had stayed at his flat whilst he had been away. One of the jurors later told a police officer that she had known through . .
CitedRegina v Abdroikof, Regina v Green; Regina v Williamson HL 17-Oct-2007
The House was asked whether a jury in criminal trials containing variously a Crown Prosecution Service solicitor, or a police officer would have the appearance of bias. In Abdroikof, the presence of the police officer on the jury was discovered only . .
CitedArmchair Passenger Transport Ltd v Helical Bar Plc and Another QBD 28-Feb-2003
Objection was made to the use of an expert witness who had formerly been a senior employee of the defendant.
Held: The court set out criteria for testing the independence of a proposed expert witness: ‘i) It is always desirable that an expert . .
CitedHelow v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Another HL 22-Oct-2008
The appellant, a Palestinian, challenged the involvement of Lady Cosgrove as a judge in her case, saying that Lady Cosgrove’s involvement as a jew in pro-Jewish lobby organisations meant that there was an appearance of bias. The applicant had sought . .
CitedDuffy, Re HL 30-Jan-2008
The claimant sought judicial review of a decision to appoint two new members to the parades commission. His request succeeded at first instance, but had failed on appeal. He complained that letters inviting proposals for membership were sent to . .
CitedTuntum Housing Association v Aryeetey EAT 12-Oct-2007
EAT Time Limits – Reasonably practicability
Practice and Procedure – Bias, misconduct and procedural irregularity
Chairman’s mistake as to necessity for further claim following Claimant’s solicitors . .
CitedMitcham v The Queen PC 16-Mar-2009
(Saint Christopher and Nevis) The applicant appealed against his sentence of death following his conviction for murder. He had been granted a stay of execution pending the appeal to the board and had since been given leave to appeal against . .
CitedVanttinen-Newton v The GEO Group UK Ltd EAT 23-Jul-2009
The Claimant was head chaplain at an immigration removal centre. He was dismissed for giving an unauthorised interview broadcast on a local radio religious broadcast and because ‘there . .
CitedHeald and Others v London Borough of Brent CA 20-Aug-2009
The court considered whether it was lawful for a local authority to outsource the decision making on homelessness reviews. The appellants said that it could not be contracted out, and that the agent employed lacked the necessary independence and was . .
CitedRegina v KS CACD 17-Nov-2009
The jury had been discharged by the judge after finding jury tampering, and he decided to continue alone. The jury had not known of the earlier convictions of others involved in the alleged conspiracy, but the judge did and he had made reference to . .
CitedMcKeown v British Horseracing Authority QBD 12-Mar-2010
The jockey claimant challenged disciplinary proceedings brought against him by the defendant authority.
Held: The findings were upheld in part but remitted for consideration of giving the claimant opportunity to challenge certain evidence. . .
CitedTibbetts v The Attorney General of The Cayman Islands PC 24-Mar-2010
(Cayman Islands) The defendant appealed against his conviction for money laundering, alleging apparent bias in a juror who was said to have been acquainted with one witness.
Held: The appeal failed. The juror had correctly replied to the . .
CitedEw v Director of Public Prosecutions and Others CA 11-Feb-2010
The claimant was subject to an order requiring him to obtain leave before commencing any civil proceedings. He commenced a private prosecution which the respondent later decided to take over and discontinue. He sought judicial review of that . .
CitedWatson v University of Strathclyde EAT 1-Feb-2011
EAT UNFAIR DISMISSAL – Constructive dismissal
Apparent bias. Whether Employment Tribunal had erred in failing to find that there was apparent bias where a member of the panel (the University Secretary) . .
CitedKaur, Regina (on The Application of) v Institute of Legal Executives Appeal Tribunal and Another CA 19-Oct-2011
The claimant appealed against rejection of judicial review of a finding that she had effectively cheated at a professional examination for the Institute. She compained that the presence of a director and the council’s vice-president of the Institute . .
CitedOni v NHS Leicester City EAT 12-Sep-2012
The Employment Tribunal should have recused itself from hearing an application for costs, given opinions which it expressed when giving reasons for deciding the case . .
CitedIn re A (A Child) SC 12-Dec-2012
A woman, X, had made an allegation in confidence she had been sexually assaulted as a child. The court was asked whether that confidence could be overriden to allow an investigation to protect if necessary a child still living with the man. Evidence . .
CitedO’Neill v Her Majesty’s Advocate No 2 SC 13-Jun-2013
The appellants had been convicted of murder, it being said that they had disposed of her body at sea. They now said that the delay between being first questioned and being charged infringed their rights to a trial within a reasonable time, and . .
CitedOtkritie International Investment Management and Others v Urumov CA 14-Oct-2014
The claimants brought proceedings against several defendants. There had been a series of hearings conducted by a single judge leading to findings that several defendants had been involved in a fraud. The defendants sought recusal of that judge . .
CitedVirdi v The Law Society of England and Wales and Another CA 16-Feb-2010
The claimant solicitor complained that in disciplinary proceedings brought against him by the respondent, the clerk to the tribunal had drafted the judgment, even though she had been an emloyee of the respondent.
Held: The description of the . .
CitedHewitt, Regina (on The Application of) v Denbighshire Magistrates’ Court Admn 22-Oct-2015
The claimant, a hunt protester appealed against her conviction for harassment saying that the judge had given the appearance of being biased. He had, on being asked denied being a member of the hunting community. She said that he had whilst in . .
CitedSingh v The Secretary of State for The Home Department CA 27-May-2016
The claimant said that the Judge in the first Tier Tribunal had made remarks before the hearing which suggested bias against the claimant.
Held: The appeal failed. There was in this case no adequate evidence of the tribunal having shown . .
CitedLondon Borough of Southwark, Regina (on The Application of) v London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and Another Admn 15-Jul-2016
There had been a substantial and lethal fire. The Borough challenged a decision by the defedant to retain to itself the prosecution of possible offenders, saying that the defendant might possibly be itself subject to criticism.
Held: The . .
CitedHarb v HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz CA 16-Jun-2016
The appellant challenged an order made in favour of his wife in proceedings to enforce a contract between them. He alleged that there had been no contract, and bias in the judge. The appellant had not attended to allow cross examination because as a . .
CitedRe West CACD 17-Jul-2014
W, a barrister, appealed against a conviction for contempt of court. He had declined to comply with the directions asked of him by the judge at a pre-trial hearing, saying that the client’s instructions that he was not guilty were sufficient. He was . .
CitedHayden v Associated Newspapers Ltd QBD 11-Mar-2020
The claimant alleged defamation by the defendant, and the court now considered the meanings of the words complained of. Another person had been held by police for seven hours after identifying the claimant as a transgendered man.
Held: The . .
CitedAmeyaw v McGoldrick and Others QBD 6-Jul-2020
Recusal Refused – former Pupil Master
Request for recusal – the judge was said to have been a member of the same chambers as counsel for the claimant and had been his mentor.
Held: Refused: ‘It was untenable to contend that there was an appearance of bias in circumstances where . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Local Government, Human Rights, Natural Justice

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.167009