Regina v Sang: HL 25 Jul 1979

The defendant appealed against an unsuccessful application to exclude evidence where it was claimed there had been incitement by an agent provocateur.
Held: The appeal failed. There is no defence of entrapment in English law. All evidence which is relevant is prima facie admissible in a criminal trial, although the trial judge has a discretion to exclude evidence which, though admissible, has been obtained by unfair means from the accused after commission of the offence. The rule allowing the exclusion of evidence was described by Lord Diplock as ‘a discretion to exclude evidence which, though technically admissible, would probably have a prejudicial influence on the minds of the jury, which would be out of proportion to its true evidential value.
A court is concerned only with ‘the conduct of the trial’ and neither ‘initiates nor stifles a prosecution’ but ‘the fairness of a trial is not all one-sided; it requires that those who are undoubtedly guilty should be convicted as well as that those about whose guilt there is any reasonable doubt should be acquitted.”
Lord Diplock said that the rule against accepting evidence obtained under duress originated in the principle expressed as ‘nemo debet prodere se ipsum’, ‘nemo tenetur se ipsum accusare’ or ‘nemo tenetur prodere seipsum’- the right against self incrimination.
Lord Scarman, referred to the earlier speech of Lord Reid in Myers v Director of Public Prosecutions, and stated that it was now the law that ‘a judge has a discretion to exclude legally admissible evidence if justice so requires’.

Lord Scarman, Lord Diplock, Viscount Dilhorne, Lord Salmon, Lord Fraser of Tullybelton
[1980] AC 402, [1979] UKHL 3, [1979] 3 WLR 263, [1979] 2 All ER 1222, (1979) 69 Cr App R 282
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Payne CCA 1963
The defendant’s conviction was quashed upon the ground that the judge ought to have exercised his discretion to exclude admissible evidence which had been obtained unfairly. . .
CitedRegina v Mealey and Sheridan CACD 1974
A claim of entrapment into an offence is not a defence in Engish law. The court adopted a definition contained in the report of the Royal Commission on Police Powers in 1928 in which an ‘agent provocateur’ was taken to mean ‘a person who entices . .
CitedRegina v Ameer and Lucas CCC 1977
The court exercised its discretion to refuse to allow the prosecution to call any evidence to prove the commission of the offence by the accused where it had been shown that there had been an agent provocateur. . .
CitedRegina v McEvilly and Lee CACD 1973
Entrapment is not a defence to a criminal charge. . .
CitedBrannan v Peek 1948
. .
CitedBrowning v Watson 1953
. .
CitedKuruma v The Queen PC 8-Dec-1954
(Court of Appeal for Eastern Africa) The defendant appealed against his conviction for unlawful possession of ammunition, saying that the evidence had been obtained by unlawful means, and should not have been admitted against him.
Held: Lord . .
CitedCallis v Gunn CCA 1964
Evidence obtained by false representations, threats and bribes by the police may be excluded at the discretion of the judge. For voluntariness to be satisfactorily proved, proof must be provided to the standard of beyond reasonable doubt.
Lord . .
CitedRegina v Murphy CMAC 1965
(Courts-Martial Appeal Court of Northern Ireland) The court has a discretion to exclude the evidence of an agent provocateur. . .
CitedRegina v Sneddon 1967
. .
CitedJeffrey v Black QBD 1977
The prosecutor appealed by way of case stated from magistrates who had exercised their discretion to exclude evidence of possession of drugs that had been obtained by an illegal search of the accused’s room by the police.
Held: The magistrates . .

Cited by:
ModifiedJones v University of Warwick CA 4-Feb-2003
The claimant appealed a decision to admit in evidence a tape recording, taken by an enquiry agent of the defendant who had entered her house unlawfully.
Held: The situation asked judges to reconcile the irreconcilable. Courts should be . .
CitedW, Regina v (Attorney General’s reference no 5 of 2002) CACD 12-Jun-2003
Three serving police officers provided confidential information to a known criminal. The Chief Constable authorised interception of telephones at a police station, a private network. The court accepted that section 17 prevented the defence asserting . .
CitedA, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, Mahmoud Abu Rideh Jamal Ajouaou v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 11-Aug-2004
The claimants had each been detained without trial for more than two years, being held as suspected terrorists. They were free leave to return to their own countries, but they feared for their lives if returned. They complained that the evidence . .
CitedRegina v Derby Crown Court, ex parte Brooks QBD 1985
The court set out the characteristics of abuse of process in criminal matters. It may be an abuse of process if: ‘the prosecution have manipulated or misused the process of the court so as to deprive the defendant of a protection provided by the law . .
CitedAttorney General’s Reference (No 1 of 1990) CACD 1990
A police officer attended an incident where two people were arrested. Complaints about his conduct were made of which he was given notice. A formal investigation was instituted and adjourned pending the outcome of criminal proceedings against those . .
CitedGrant v The Queen PC 16-Jan-2006
(Jamaica) The defendant appealed his conviction for murder saying that the admission of an unsworn statement by one witness and the non-admission of another similar statement who did not either attend court was unconstitutional. He shot the victim . .
CitedC Plc v P and Attorney General Intervening CA 22-May-2007
The respondent had been subject to a civil search, which revealed the existence of obscene images of children on his computer. He appealed against refusal of an order that the evidence should not be passed to the police as evidence. He said that the . .
CitedFox v Chief Constable of Gwent HL 1986
The driver left an accident. The police entered his home unlawfully, and on his refusal to supply a breath test, he was arrested and charged with faiing to supply.
Held: A lawful arrest is not an essential requirement before a breath test, and . .
CitedRegina v Sargent HL 25-Oct-2001
When a telephone engineer used his position to make unauthorised telephone intercepts, and produced apparent evidence of criminal activity, he was, under the Act, a person engaged in providing a public communications system, and the recordings were . .
CitedMohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 1) Admn 21-Aug-2008
The claimant had been detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay suspected of terrorist involvement. He sought to support his defence documents from the respondent which showed that the evidence to be relied on in the US courts had been obtained by . .
CitedRegina v Khan (Sultan) HL 2-Jul-1996
The police had obtained the evidence against the defendant by fixing a covert listening device at an apartment visited by the defendant, and by recording his conversations there. The defendant appealed, saying that the court should have regard to . .
CitedCummins, Regina (on The Application of) v Manchester Crown Court Admn 27-Jul-2010
The claimant sought a declaration that search warrants on his premises issued under money laundering suspicions were unlawful. The warrants did not comply with the 1984 Act, having failed satisfactorily to specify their purpose. Limited offers had . .
CitedCook and Another v Serious Organised Crime Agency Admn 27-Jul-2010
The claimants sought review of a decision of the Serious Organised Crime Agency to seize documents which have been the subject of the unlawful execution of a search warrant, purporting to act for this record seizure under section 19 of the Police . .
CitedKohler v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 9-Jul-2010
The driver appealed against her conviction for driving with excess alcohol. She said that she had not been given the protection provided under section 9 against being required to provide a specimen whilst under the care of a doctor at hospital.
CitedPublic Prosecution Service v McKee SC 22-May-2013
Non-approval didn’t devalue fingerprints
The court was asked: ‘what are the statutory consequences if the fingerprints of a defendant have been taken in a police station in Northern Ireland by an electronic device for which the legislation required approval from the Secretary of State, . .
ExplainedMorris v Beardmore HL 1981
Parliament does not intend to authorise tortious conduct except by express provision. It is not for the courts to alter the balance between individual rights and the powers of public officials. The right of privacy is fundamental.
Lord Scarman . .

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Crime, Criminal Practice

Leading Case

Updated: 28 December 2021; Ref: scu.179807