Regina v Boyes: 27 May 1861

A defendant seeking to avoid answering questions so as not to incriminate himself is to be given some understanding and latitude in respecting his own interpretation. The beneficiary of a pardon could be called upon to incriminate himself because he merited no protection: ‘the effect of which [the pardon] was to make him a new man, and consequently to bar any proceedings by or in the name of the Crown’.
Cockburn CJ set out the level of risk required to allow a claim of the privilege against self incrimination: ‘To entitle a witness to the privilege of not answering a question as tending to incriminate him, the court must see, from the circumstances of the case and the nature of the evidence which the witness is called to give, that there is reasonable grounds to apprehend danger to the witness from his being compelled to answer. If the facts of the witness being endangered be once made to appear, great latitude should be allowed to him in judging the effect of any particular question. The danger to be apprehended must be real and appreciable, with reference to the ordinary operation of law in the ordinary course of things, and not a danger of imaginary character having reference to some barely possible contingency.’
References: (1861) 1 B and S 311, [1861] EngR 626, (1861) 121 ER 730
Links: Commonlii
Judges: Cockburn CJ
This case cites:

  • Appeal from – Regina v Boyes 1860
    A witness, an accomplice in a criminal offence, who has received the pardon of the Crown under the Great Seal for that offence, has no privilege of refusing to answer questions relating to the offence, which may tend to criminate himself. He is . .
    ([1860] EngR 170, , (1860) 2 F and F 157, (1860) 175 ER 1004)

This case is cited by:

  • Cited – British Steel Corporation v Granada Television Ltd HL 7-May-1980
    The defendant had broadcast a TV programme using material confidential to the plaintiff, who now sought disclosure of the identity of the presumed thief.
    Held: (Lord Salmon dissenting) The courts have never recognised a public interest right . .
    ([1981] AC 1096, [1981] 1 All ER 452, [1980] 3 WLR 774)
  • Cited – Regina v Uxbridge Magistrates and Another ex parte Adimi; R v CPS ex parte Sorani; R v SSHD and Another ex parte Kaziu Admn 29-Jul-1999
    The three asylum seeker appellants arrived in the United Kingdom at different times in possession of false passports. They were prosecuted for possession or use of false documents contrary to section 5, and for obtaining air services by deception . .
    (Times 12-Aug-99, , [1999] EWHC Admin 765, [2001] QB 667, [2000] 3 WLR 434, [1999] Imm AR 560, [1999] 4 All ER 520)
  • Cited – C Plc and W v P and Secretary of State for the Home Office and the Attorney General ChD 26-May-2006
    The claimant sought damages from the first defendant for breach of copyright. An ex parte search order had been executed, with the defendant asserting his privilege against self-incrimination. As computer disks were examined, potentially unlawful . .
    (, [2006] EWHC 1226 (Ch), Times 08-Jun-06, [2007] 3 WLR 437)
  • Cited – Phillips v Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd and Others ChD 17-Nov-2010
    The claimant had been assistant to a well known publicist. The defendant had settled an action brought by her principal for hacking his mobile telephone, in the course of which it appeared that the claimant’s phone had also been hacked. She now . .
    (, [2010] EWHC 2952 (Ch))

These lists may be incomplete.
Last Update: 27 November 2020; Ref: scu.193366