Pullar v The United Kingdom: ECHR 10 Jun 1996

The applicant P was an elected councillor. He faced a charge of corruption, being said to have have offered, for reward, to support a planning application made by M, a partner in a firm of architects, and C, a partner in a firm of quantity surveyors. He was tried before a sheriff and a jury in July 1992. M and C were the leading prosecution witnesses. Among the jurors summoned to the trial was F, a junior employee of M’s firm who had received notice of dismissal on grounds of redundancy shortly before the trial began. F informed the clerk of the court of his employment in M’s firm, but the clerk, having ascertained that F did not know P and was ignorant of the facts, took no action and did not inform the sheriff or the procurator fiscal or defending lawyers. M, on later seeing F sitting as a juror, told the clerk of his connection with F, but the clerk again took no action and informed no one. P was convicted. His lawyers learned of the connection between F and M only after the trial, and appealed to the High Court of Justiciary. That court had held that the clerk ought to have informed the sheriff, and if he had F would probably have been excused, but that a mere suspicion of bias was insufficient to justify quashing a verdict, and it was necessary to prove that a miscarriage of justice had actually occurred. So the appeal failed. The Commission unanimously found a breach of article 6(1) of the Convention: in the circumstances of the case the impartiality of the jury which convicted P was capable of appearing open to doubt and P’s fears in this regard could be considered as objectively justified.
Held: By a bare majority of 5-4, there had been no violation. Knowledge of a person did not necessarily lead to prejudice in his favour, and that it had to be decided whether the familiarity in question was of such a nature and degree as to indicate a lack of impartiality on the part of the tribunal. F had not worked on the project giving rise to the prosecution, and it was not clear that an objective observer would conclude that F, having just received notice of redundancy, would be more inclined to believe M rather than the witnesses for the defence. The presence of the complainant’s employee on the jury did not stop the jury being impartial and the trial fair. The court recognised the several features of jury trial in Britain which help to guarantee the objective impartiality of the jury.
Hudoc No violation of Art. 6-1; No violation of Art. 6-1+6-3-d

Times 24-Jun-1996, [1996] 22 ECHR 391, 22399/93, [1996] ECHR 23
Worldlii, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights 6
Human Rights
Cited by:
CitedCheryl Little, (HMA v Anstruther) ScSf 21-Sep-2001
An order was made against a witness for prevarication. The order was challenged on the basis that she had not had a fair trial, not having a hearing before an independent tribunal. The same judge had acted as witness prosecutor and judge and jury. . .
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 . .
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 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice, Human Rights

Updated: 16 December 2021; Ref: scu.165425