Pwr v Director of Public Prosecutions: SC 26 Jan 2022

The appellants carried a flag of the Kurdistan Workers Party, a proscribed organisation at a demonstration, and were convicted of a section 13(1) offence. The Crown Court dismissed their appeals, holding that section 13(1) created an offence of strict liability meaning that the offence did not require knowledge of the import of the article displayed, or of its capacity to arouse reasonable suspicion that he or she was a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation, and that section 13(1) was not incompatible with the right to freedom of expression.
Held: The appeals were dismissed.
The defendant must know that he is displaying the relevant article, but no extra mental element is required beyond this. The offence is one of strict liability. The presumption for mens rea is rebutted by necessary implication from the use of the phrase reasonable suspicion, and requiring mens rea would render incoherent what is otherwise a calibrated and rational scheme of proscribed organisation offences in the 2000 Act. The Act was concerned with the effect on other people rather than the intention or knowledge of the defendant.

Lord Lloyd-Jones
Lady Arden
Lord Hamblen
Lord Burrows
Lady Rose
[2022] UKSC 2
Terrorism Act 2000 13(1), European Convention on Human Rights 10
England and Wales
Appeal fromPwr and Others v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 3-Apr-2020
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Updated: 27 January 2022; Ref: scu.671615