Regina v White: CACD 14 Feb 2001

The court asked whether calling a woman an ‘African bitch’ was capable in law of demonstrating hostility towards the complainant, who came from Sierra Leone, as being a member of a racial group.
Held: The meaning of ‘racial group’ was not so tied down by the Act as to be restricted to dictionary definitions. Accordingly the language was to be given a broad and non-technical meaning. The term ‘African’ could therefore refer to a racial grouping for the purposes of the Act. The Act was not phrased so as to excuse members of a racial group insulting racially another member of the same racial group: ‘. . In our judgment, the word African does describe a ‘racial group’ defined by reference to race. In ordinary speech, the word African denotes a limited group of people regarded as of common stock and regarded as one of the major divisions of humankind having in common distinct physical features. It denotes a person characteristic of the blacks of Africa, to adopt a part of the definition in the dictionary.’ The Court distinguished the terms ‘African’ from ‘South American’: ‘Reference was made to South America in the course of argument and we mention it to make a distinction. Whereas the word African has a racial connotation, the expression South American, in England and Wales, probably does not. The range of physical characteristics in the populations of that continent, and the absence of prominence of any one group, is such that the use of the expression South American does not bring to mind particular racial characteristics. We would not expect there to be a common perception in England and Wales of a South American racial group.’


Pill, Pitchford LJJ


Times 13-Mar-2001, [2001] EWCA Crim 216, [2001] 1 WLR 1352


Bailii, Bailii


Public Order Act 1986 4, Crime and Disorder Act 1998 31

Cited by:

CitedRogers, Regina v CACD 10-Nov-2005
The defendant appealed his conviction for racially aggravated abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear or to provoke violence. He was driving his motorised scooter and came across three Spanish women. In the course of an . .
CitedRogers, Regina v HL 28-Feb-2007
The House was asked whether the use of the phrases ‘bloody foreigners’ and ‘get back to your own country’ counted to make a disturbance created by the defendant a racially aggravated crime.
Held: (Baroness Hale of Richmond) ‘The mischiefs . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Discrimination

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.88706