The defendant had been involved in a car crash. He drove his car home, and reported the accident only the following day. He appealed against a conviction for attempting to pervert the course of justice, having defeated any possibility of his being tested for alcohol.
Held: The case involved an unsupportable extension of the common law offence. To establish the offence some positive act of interference had to be shown and that was absent here. Appeal allowed. The common law has always developed incrementally and if the ambit of this common law offence is to be enlarged it must be done step by step on a case by case basis and not with one large leap. The need for caution is underlined by Article 7 of the ECHR which requires any criminal offence to be clearly defined by law.
Tuckey LJ said there is no closed list of actions which might amount to a perversion of the course of justice; no: ‘closed list of acts which may give rise to the offence and it would be wrong to confine it to the specific instances or categories which have so far appeared in the reported cases. ‘
That there may be an overlap with other offences, in particular, contempt of court, does not of itself mean that the offence of perverting the course of justice will not have been committed: ‘the ambit of the offence is not inhibited by express statutory provision. The same acts may tend to pervert the course of justice and also be contrary to specific statutory provisions or amount to contempt of court.’
Referring to the cautionary words in Selvage, he said: ‘The common law has always developed incrementally and if the ambit of this common law offence is to be enlarged it must be done step by step on a case by case basis and not with one large leap. The need for caution is underlined by Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights which requires any criminal offence to be clearly defined by law . .’
Lord Justice Tuckey Mr. Justice Gross And Sir Ian Kennedy
 EWCA Crim 991, Times 17-Apr-2003,  2 Cr App R 23
European Convention on Human Rights 7
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v Rafique and Others CACD 23-Apr-1993
Acts carried out before the start of enquiry which was intended to interfere with that enquiry may still pervert cause of justice. Here a body or weapon had been hidden in order to impede the inquiry. . .
Cited – Regina v Vreones 1891
It was alleged that the defendant had tampered with a sample of wheat to be used in an arbitration, and he was accused of perverting the course of justice.
Held: Perverting the course of justice is a common law offence covering a wide variety . .
Cited – Regina v Headley CACD 15-Feb-1995
The appellant’s brother had been stopped by police and given his name and address as the driver of the car. The appellant was charged with perverting the course of justice on the basis that he had failed to respond to the summons against him arising . .
Cited – Regina v Murray CACD 1973
The appellant had tampered with his part of a specimen of blood. He appealed his conviction on the basis that this act was incapable of having a tendency to pervert the course of justice because it was done in private.
Held: There must be . .
Cited – Regina v Selvage, Morgan CACD 1981
A conspiracy to effect some other unlawfulness but which has no tendency to cause a miscarriage of justice in curial proceedings, is not a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. If no proceedings of any kind are in contemplation at the time . .
Cited – Regina v Cotter and Others CACD 10-May-2002
The defendants appealed against convictions for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. They said that the fact that an investigation followed a false allegation was insufficient to found a complaint, and that the extent of the crime was so . .
Explained – Regina v Sookoo CACD 20-Mar-2002
The defendant appealed against his sentence for attempting to pervert the course of justice and theft. He had received a sentence of six months for the theft and nine months consecutive for perverting the course of justice
Held: Allowing the . .
Cited – Kenny v Regina CACD 30-Jan-2013
The appellant had made a loan to a third party defendant in criminal fraud proceedings. At the time he did not know that that third party was subject to a restraint order under the 2002 Act. When he did come to know of the order he was asked to say . .
Cited – The Director of Public Prosecutions v SK Admn 10-Feb-2016
The prosecutor appealed against dismissal of a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The defendant had completed somebody else’s community service sentence. The prosecutor said that such an act did affect something ‘in the course of . .
Cited – Johnson v Westminster Magistrates’ Court Admn 3-Jul-2019
Public Office Misconduct – Acting As not While
The claimant sought judicial review of a decision to issue a summons against him alleging three offences of misconduct in public office. He was said to have issue misleading statements in support of the campaign leading up to the Referendum on . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Crime, Human Rights
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.180748