Public Interest Immunity Certificates for the protection of informants must be used only carefully. The Crown must specify the purpose of the public interest immunity certificate. The principles on disclosure in Ward are not limited to scientific evidence. The great principle is that of open justice: ‘If the disputed material may prove the defendant’s innocence or avoid a miscarriage of justice, then the balance comes down resoundingly in favour of disclosing it. But how is it to be determined whether and to what extent the material which the Crown wish to withhold may be of assistance to the defence? First, it is for the prosecution to put before the court only those documents which it regards as material but wishes to withhold. As to what documents are ‘material’ we would adopt the test suggested in [Melvin].’ and ‘[Material evidence is that] which can be seen on a sensible appraisal by the prosecution: (a) to be relevant or possibly relevant to an issue in the case; (b) to raise or possibly raise a new issue whose relevance is not apparent from the evidence the prosecution proposes to use; (c) to hold out a real, as opposed to a fanciful, prospect of providing a lead on evidence which goes to (a) or (b).’
Lord Taylor of Gosforth C.J
Independent 16-Mar-1994, Times 15-Mar-1994,  1 WLR 746,  2 All ER 478, (1994) 99 Cr App R 1
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v Ward (Judith) CACD 15-Jul-1992
The defendant had been wrongly convicted of IRA bombings. She said that the prosecution had failed to disclose evidence.
Held: The prosecution’s forensic scientists are under a common law duty to disclose to the defence anything they may . .
Cited – Regina v Melvin 20-Dec-1993
The court considered what material should be disclosed by a prosecutor: ‘I would judge to be material in the realm of disclosure that which can be seen on a sensible appraisal by the prosecution: (1) to be relevant or possibly relevant to an issue . .
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 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 Brown (Winston) HL 20-Feb-1997
The victim had been stabbed outside a nightclub. Two witnesses identified the defendant. The defendants complained that evidence had not been disclosed to them.
Held: There is no duty at common law on the prosecution to warn the defence of . .
Cited – Taylor and Others v Director of The Serious Fraud Office and Others HL 29-Oct-1998
The defendant had requested the Isle of Man authorities to investigate the part if any taken by the plaintiff in a major fraud. No charges were brought against the plaintiff, but the documents showing suspicion came to be disclosed in the later . .
Cited – Mohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 4) Admn 4-Feb-2009
In an earlier judgment, redactions had been made relating to reports by the US government of its treatment of the claimant when held by them at Guantanamo bay. The claimant said he had been tortured and sought the documents to support his defence of . .
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 . .
Cited – Regina v Livingstone CANI 25-Jun-2013
The defendant appealed against his conviction for murder, saying that police officers had fabricated a confession, and had severely mistreated another detainee to concoct further evidence.
Held: The appeal was allowed. Had the material . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 26 March 2021; Ref: scu.87033