The several defendants complained at the use at their trials of evidence given anonymously. The perceived need for anonymity arose because, from intimidation, the witnesses would not be willing to give their evidence without it.
Held: The anonymity ruling did not prevent proper investigation with the witnesses in open court of the essential elements of the defence. The court possesses an inherent jurisdiction at common law to control its own proceedings, if necessary by adapting and developing its existing processes ‘to defeat any attempted thwarting of its process’. Arrangements had been made for their anonymisation, but the court had to find a balance with the defendants’ rights to a fair trial. The admission of the evidence had not produced trials which were unfair. The significant test, as established in ECHR jurisprudence, was the opportunity to test the evidence by examination: ‘we can detect no conflict between the decisions of the European Court and the observations of the House of Lords on the issue of witness anonymity. In our judgment the discretion to permit evidence to be given by witnesses whose identity may not be known to the defendant is now beyond question. The potential disadvantages to the defendant require the court to examine the application for witness anonymity with scrupulous care, to ensure that it is necessary and that the witness is indeed in genuine and justified fear of serious consequences if his true identity became known to the defendant or the defendant’s associates. It is in any event elementary that the court should be alert to potential or actual disadvantages faced by the defendant in consequence of any anonymity ruling, and ensure that necessary and appropriate precautions are taken to ensure that the trial itself will be fair. Provided that appropriate safeguards are applied, and the judge is satisfied that a fair trial can take place, it may proceed. If not, he should not permit anonymity. If he does so, and there is a conviction, it is not to be regarded as unsafe simply because the evidence of anonymous witnesses may have been decisive. ‘
Sir Igor Judge President, Mitting J, Fulford J
 EWCA Crim 1155, Times 01-Jun-2006,  1 WLR 3130,  Crim LR 70,  4 All ER 648,  2 Cr App R 32
Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, European Convention on Human Rights 6(30(d)
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v X, Y and Z; Regina v DJX, SCY and GCZ CACD 1989
The court upheld the decision of the Common Sergeant, sitting at the Central Criminal Court, that screens should be erected to enable children who had been treated indecently to give evidence screened from the defendant. The judge was required to . .
Cited – Connelly v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1964
Plea of Autrefois Acquit is Narrow in Scope
The defendant had been tried for and acquitted of murder. The prosecution then sought to have him tried for robbery out of the same alleged facts. The House considered his plea of autrefois convict.
Held: The majority identified a narrow . .
Cited – D v National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children HL 2-Feb-1977
Immunity from disclosure of their identity should be given to those who gave information about neglect or ill treatment of children to a local authority or the NSPCC similar to that which the law allowed to police informers.
Lord Simon of . .
Cited – Scott and another v Regina, Barnes and others v Regina PC 1989
(Jamaica) The defendants appealed the dismissal of their appeals against convictions for capital murder. In Scott, a special constable was shot with his own revolver in a bar, and subsequently died of his wounds. The only evidence identifying Scott . .
Cited – Regina v Dragic CACD 7-Mar-1996
Written evidence of a severely and chronically ill witness who was unable to attend and give oral evidence was rightly admitted. Lord Taylor CJ said: ‘The fact that there is no ability to cross-examine, that the witness who is absent is the only . .
Cited – Sellick and Sellick, Regina v CACD 14-Mar-2005
The defendants appealed convictions for murder saying that the court had had read to it the statements of four witnesses who refused to attend for fear, having been intimidated. Other witnesses had been unco-operative and had been treated by the . .
Cited – Al-Khawaja v Regina CACD 3-Nov-2005
The defendant had been tried for indecent assaults. The complainant having died before the trial, the judge had ruled that her written statements were admissible. The defendant said he had not had a fair trial.
Held: The appeal failed. The . .
Cited – Kostovski v The Netherlands ECHR 20-Nov-1989
No Anonymity for Witnessses in Criminal Trial
K was convicted of armed robbery on the basis of statements of anonymous witnesses. He was unable to question those witnesses at any stage. Being unaware of the identity of the witnesses deprived K of the very particulars which would have enabled . .
Cited – Windisch v Austria ECHR 27-Sep-1990
cs W was convicted of burglary on the evidence of a mother and daughter, who gave statements without their identity being revealed.
Held: The court recited various principles in the following terms:- ‘All . .
Cited – D (A Minor), Regina (on the Application of) v Camberwell Green Youth Court HL 27-Jan-2005
The defendant challenged the obligatory requirement that evidence given by a person under 17 in sex or violent offence cases must normally be given by video link.
Held: The purpose of the section was to improve the quality of the evidence . .
Cited – Luca v Italy ECHR 27-Feb-2001
The accused had been convicted. After exercising his right to silence, there were read to the court accounts of statements made by co-accused but without an opportunity for him to cross examine the witnesses.
Held: Saunders had established the . .
Cited – Jasper v The United Kingdom ECHR 16-Feb-2000
Grand Chamber – The defendants had been convicted after the prosecution had withheld evidence from them and from the judge under public interest immunity certificates. They complained that they had not had fair trials.
Held: The right was . .
Cited – Ludi v Switzerland ECHR 15-Jun-1992
The claimant challenged his conviction of a drug trafficking offence. The evidence against him consisted mainly of a report by an anonymous undercover agent and transcripts of telephone intercepts of calls between the agent and the applicant. . .
Cited – Osman v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Oct-1998
Police’s Complete Immunity was Too Wide
(Grand Chamber) A male teacher developed an obsession with a male pupil. He changed his name by deed poll to the pupil’s surname. He was required to teach at another school. The pupil’s family’s property was subjected to numerous acts of vandalism, . .
Cited – Doorson v The Netherlands ECHR 26-Mar-1996
Evidence was given in criminal trials by anonymous witnesses and evidence was also read as a result of a witness having appeared at the trial but then absconded. The defendant was convicted of drug trafficking. As regards the anonymous witnesses, . .
Cited – Regina v Watford Magistrates Court ex parte Lenman QBD 1993
Youths were accused of a violent disorder in the cenre of Watford. Witnesses feared for their safety and made statements to the police under pseudonyms, and at the committal hearing application was made that they give evidence under these . .
Cited – Regina v Taylor and Crabb CACD 22-Jul-1994
The defendants had stood trial at the Central Criminal Court for murder. At the trial a witness anonymised as Miss A was allowed to give evidence anonymously, without revealing her address, behind a screen so arranged that she, the judge, jury and . .
Cited – Van Mechelen And Others v The Netherlands ECHR 23-Apr-1997
A Dutch court had convicted the applicants of attempted manslaughter and robbery on the basis of statements made, before their trial, by anonymous police officers, none of whom gave evidence before the Regional Court or the investigating judge. The . .
Cited – Birutis And Others v Lithuania ECHR 28-Mar-2002
The court considered the conviction of the applicant on the basis of anonymous statements which were not tested by examination at trial.
Held: The Court criticised the means adopted by the authorities ‘in handling the anonymous evidence’. . .
Cited – Visser v The Netherlands ECHR 14-Feb-2002
The applicant alleged that in criminal proceedings against him, there was used in evidence a statement from an anonymous witness, and his defence rights had been unacceptably restricted in breach of Article 6. The police said that witnesses were . .
Cited – PS v Germany ECHR 20-Dec-2001
The applicant had been convicted of sexual abuse of a child. The evidence against him consisted of a statement made by the child’s mother about what her daughter had told her, and evidence by a police officer who had questioned the daughter shortly . .
Cited – Regina v Davis; Regina v Rowe; Regina v Johnson CA 10-Mar-1993
Guidance was given on the procedures to be followed for applications for non-disclosure for public interest immunity. The court identified three types of case. In the first, and most frequent case the prosecution must notify the defence of the . .
Cited – Regina v Preston, Preston, Clarke Etc HL 5-Nov-1993
Telephone tapping evidence consisting of tapping records are to be destroyed after their use for the purpose obtained, but a prosecution was not within that purpose. The underlying purpose of the 1985 Act is to protect information as to the . .
Cited – Regina v Forbes (Anthony Leroy) (Attorney General’s Reference No 3 of 1999) HL 19-Dec-2000
The provisions of the Code of Practice regarding identification parades are mandatory and additional unwritten conditions are not to be inserted. Where there was an identification and the suspect challenged that identification, and consented to the . .
Cited – Regina v H; Regina v C HL 5-Feb-2004
Use of Special Counsel as Last Resort Only
The accused faced charges of conspiring to supply Class A drugs. The prosecution had sought public interest immunity certificates. Special counsel had been appointed by the court to represent the defendants’ interests at the applications.
Cited – Regina v G and Another (PII: Counsel’s duty) CACD 27-May-2004
During the course of the trial, the prosecutor had inadvertently disclosed to the defence legal team material which had been subject to a public interest immunity certificate. The judge made an order under the 1987 Act that the defence team must not . .
Appeal from – Regina v Davis HL 18-Jun-2008
The defendant had been tried for the murder of two men by shooting them at a party. He was identified as the murderer by three witnesses who had been permitted to give evidence anonymously, from behind screens, because they had refused, out of fear, . .
Cited – Al-Rawi and Others v The Security Service and Others SC 13-Jul-2011
The claimant pursued a civil claim for damages, alleging complicity of the respondent in his torture whilst in the custody of foreign powers. The respondent sought that certain materials be available to the court alone and not to the claimant or the . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 29 January 2021; Ref: scu.241773