Regina v Davis, Rowe, Johnson: CACD 17 Jul 2000

The court made a distinction between convictions found on appeal to be unfair, and those found to be unsafe. The prosecution had not disclosed to the defendants that the source of their information was a police informer. The European Court of Human Rights had found the procedure unfair. The national court must therefore discharge the defendants, but could not say they felt the defendants’ innocence had been established. The system of public interest immunity certificates had not itself been criticised by the European Court of Human Rights, and the system stood valid. Assessing the claim for a certificate in chambers would not deprive the applicant of his remedy. ‘The court is concerned with the safety of the conviction. A conviction can never be safe if there is a doubt about guilt. However, the converse is not true. A conviction may be unsafe even where there is no doubt about guilt but the trial process has been ‘vitiated by serious unfairness or significant legal misdirection’ as in Smith (Patrick and Others) and in Weir. Usually it will be sufficient for the court to apply the test in Stirland.’ and ‘Assuming the wrong decision on law or the irregularity had not occurred and the trial had been free from legal error, would the only reasonable and proper verdict have been one of guilty?’


Mantell LJ, Blofeld, Rafferty JJ


Times 25-Jul-2000, Times 24-Apr-2000, [2001] 1 Cr App Rep 8, [2000] Crim LR 1012, [2000] UKHRR 683, [2000] HRLR 527, [2000] EWCA Crim 109




England and Wales


CitedStirland v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1944
The House considered what was the appropriate test for allowing a conviction to stand despite the finding of an irregularity in the trial.
Held: The House must be satisfied that there was ‘a situation a reasonable jury, after being properly . .
See AlsoRegina 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 by:

CitedKelleher, Regina v CACD 20-Nov-2003
The defendant, out of strong conviction, entered an art gallery and knocked the head from a statue of Margaret Thatcher.
Held: The court examined the breadth of the defence of ‘lawful excuse’ to a charge of criminal damage, and whether a court . .
CitedGough, Regina v CACD 8-Nov-2001
Appeal against conviction for burglary: ‘The appeal is concerned only with the directions given to the jury as to the inferences which they might draw after the appellant absconded during the course of his trial.’
Held: The direction was . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice, Human Rights, Criminal Evidence, Crime

Updated: 23 May 2022; Ref: scu.135722