Regina 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 late, but there was no conflict over police evidence. In Green the victim was an officer from the same borough as the juror whose status as a police officer was only discovered after trial. In Williamson, the juror had served with the Crown Prosecution service for many years.
Held: Actual bias is always hard to prove, and was not alleged here, but the appearance of bias was also generally unacceptable. Parliament having decided that peope involved in the criminal processes should be jurors, the courts should accept that so far as was consistent with the duty to ensure a fair trial. The cases involving the police officer victim, and the CPS solicitor were remitted for the convictions to be quashed.
Lord Bingham allowed two of the appeals saying: ‘the safeguards established to protect the impartiality of the jury, when properly operated, do all that can reasonably be done to neutralise the ordinary prejudices and predilections to which we are all prone. But this does not meet the central thrust of the case . . that these cases do not involve the ordinary prejudices and predilections to which we are all prone but the possibility of bias (possibly unconscious) which, as he submits, inevitably flows from the presence on a jury of persons professionally committed to one side only of an adversarial trial process.’ Baroness Hale agreed.
Lord Rodger dismissed the appeals: ‘The reality therefore is that the jury system operates, not because those who serve are free from prejudice, but despite the fact that many of them will harbour prejudices of various kinds when they enter the jury box.’ Lord Carswell agreed.
Lord Mance said, agreeing with Lord Bingham and Baroness Hale: ‘the fair-minded and informed observer is him or herself in large measure the construct of the court. Individual members of the public, all of whom might claim this description, have widely differing characteristics, experience, attitudes and beliefs which could shape their answers on issues such as those before the court, without their being easily cast as unreasonable. The differences of view in the present case illustrate the difficulties of attributing to the fair-minded and informed observer the appropriate balance between on the one hand complacency and naivety and on the other cynicism and suspicion. ‘


Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell, Lord Mance


[2007] UKHL 37, Times 08-Nov-2007, [2007] 1 WLR 2679, [2008] 1 Cr App R 21, [2008] Crim LR 134, [2008] 1 All ER 315, (2007) 151 SJLB 1365




Criminal Justice Act 2003


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Abdroikov and Others CACD 28-Jul-2005
The defendants appealed against their convictions, saying that the presence of police officers on the jury suggested bias.
Held: The court rejected the suggestion that police officers should, because of their occupation, be automatically . .
CitedRegina v Barnsley Licensing Justices, Ex parte Barnsley and District Licensed Victuallers’ Association 1960
Even though a person may in good faith believe that he was acting impartially, his mind may unconsciously be affected by a bias. Devlin LJ said: ‘Bias is or may be an unconscious thing and a man may honestly say that he was not actually biased and . .
CitedMetropolitan Properties Company (FGC) Limited v Lannon 11-Jul-1968
Tenants of apartments asked the Rent Officer to fix the fair rents. On appeal, the rents were then set at a rate lower even than they had requested. The rents would serve as a guide for other local rents. The landlords now complained that the . .
CitedLawal 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.
Held: The test in Gough should be restated in part so that the court must first ascertain all the . .
CitedDelcourt v Belgium ECHR 17-Jan-1970
The applicant had failed in appeals against conviction and sentence for offences of fraud and forgery before the Belgian Cour de Cassation. He complained that he had not enjoyed the right to a fair trial recognised by Article 6(1) of the Convention . .
CitedRegina 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 . .
CitedHauschildt v Denmark ECHR 24-May-1989
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection rejected (non-exhaustion); Violation of Art. 6-1; Pecuniary damage – claim rejected; Non-pecuniary damage – finding of violation sufficient; . .
CitedPullar 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 . .
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 . .
CitedRex v Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy KBD 9-Nov-1923
Clerk wrongly retired with Justices
There had been a prosecution before the lay magistrates for dangerous driving. Unknown to the defendant and his solicitors, the Clerk to the Justices was a member of the firm of solicitors acting in a civil claim against the defendant arising out of . .
CitedPorter 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 . .
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 Hayter HL 3-Feb-2005
The House considered the principle that the confession of a defendant is inadmissible in a joint criminal case against a co-defendant. In a trial for murder, one party was accused of requesting a middleman to arrange for the murder by a third party. . .
Appeal fromRegina v Abdroikov and Others CACD 28-Jul-2005
The defendants appealed against their convictions, saying that the presence of police officers on the jury suggested bias.
Held: The court rejected the suggestion that police officers should, because of their occupation, be automatically . .

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Khan and Hanif CACD 14-Mar-2008
Each defendant appealed against his conviction saying that the presence on the jury of certain people involved in the law gave the appearance of bias.
Held: The court should be made aware if any potential juror either is or has been a police . .
CitedRule 3, Application- Only v North Glamorgan NHS Trust EAT 12-Mar-2008
EAT Practice and Procedure – Appellate jurisdiction/reasons/Burns-Barke
There is no practical utility in hearing interim appeals against pre-hearing orders and bias when the EAT has already . .
CitedYemoh and Others v Regina CACD 22-May-2009
The defendants appealed saying that the judge had failed to disclose that a jury member was a serving police officer, and also complained of the judge’s directions on the ‘fundamentally different’ test applicable to cases of murder and manslaughter. . .
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 . .
CitedRegina v Burdett and Another CACD 12-Feb-2009
The defendants appealed against their convictions and sentence of three years for money laundering. Dehumidifiers and similar had been sold at grossly inflated prices to the elderly. It was ‘a most despicable fraud committed on the vulnerable people . .
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 . .
ExplainedRegina v LL CACD 2011
It came to light that at the trial of the appellant that one juror was a current employee of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in general administrative duties, another was a serving police officer in an administrative and non-operational role, . .
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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice, Human Rights

Updated: 20 December 2022; Ref: scu.259908