The defendants appealed against convictions for conspiracy to defraud. The three were bank employees including the chairman, and between them managed to take money from the bank by different forms of malpractice. The defendants denied dishonesty, saying that the acts identified were recklessness rather than dishonesty.
Held: The indictment alleging ‘divers false and fraudulent devise’ was a relic of the past. A defendant was entitled to know just what allegations were made against him. The judge had failed to direct the jury of the need to find that the defendants had agreed to act dishonestly, and the appeal was allowed.
Lawton LJ said: ‘There is always a danger that a jury may think that proof of an irregularity followed by loss is proof of dishonesty. The dishonesty to be proved must be in the minds and intentions of the defendants. It is to their states of mind that the jury must direct their attention. What the reasonable man or the jurors themselves would have believed or intended in the circumstances in which the defendants found themselves is not what the jury have to decide, but what a reasonable man or they themselves would have believed or intended in similar circumstances may help them to decide what in fact individual defendants believed or intended. An assertion by a defendant that throughout a transaction he acted honestly does not have to be accepted but has to be weighed like any other piece of evidence. If that was the defendant’s state of mind, or may have been, he is entitled to be acquitted. But if the jury, applying their own notions of what is honest and what is not, conclude that he could not have believed that he was acting honestly, then the element of dishonesty will have been established. What a jury must not do is to say to themselves: ‘If we had been in his place we would have known we were acting dishonestly so he must have known he was.’ What they can say is: ‘We are sure he was acting dishonestly because we can see no reason why a man of his intelligence and experience would not have appreciated, as right minded people would have done, that what he was doing was dishonest.”
 1 WLR 355,  1 All ER 1172
England and Wales
Explained – Regina v Feely CACD 1973
In relation to a charge of theft where the issue of dishonesty is raised, the issue must be left to the jury. Dishonesty is not a matter of law, but a jury question of fact and standards. Except to the limited extent that section 2 of the Theft Act . .
Considered – Regina v Ghosh CACD 5-Apr-1982
The defendant surgeon was said to have made false claims for payment for operations, and was charged under the 1968 Act. He claimed to have been entitled to the sums claimed, and denied that he had been dishonest. The court considered the meaning of . .
Cited – Ivey v Genting Casinos (UK) Ltd (T/A Crockfords) SC 25-Oct-2017
The claimant gambler sought payment of his winnings. The casino said that he had operated a system called edge-sorting to achieve the winnings, and that this was a form of cheating so as to excuse their payment. The system exploited tiny variances . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 May 2022; Ref: scu.214621