Sir Francis Burdett, Bart v The Right Hon Charles Abbot: KBD 1811

Speaker’s Powers to Arrest House Members

To an action of trespass against the Speaker of the House of Commons for forcibly, and, with the assistance of armed soldiers, breaking into the messuage of the plaintiff (the outer door being shut and fastened,) and arresting him there, and taking him to the Tower of London, and imprisoning him there; it is a legal justification and bar to plead that a Parliament was held, which was sitting during the period of the trespasses complained of; that the plaintiff was a member of the House of Commons; and that the House having resolved ‘that a certain letter, and e. in Cobbett’s Weekly Register, was a libellous and scandalous paper, reflecting on the just rights and privileges of the House, and that the plaintiff, who had admitted that the said letter, and co. was printed by his authority, had been thereby guilty of a breach of the privileges of that House ;’ and having ordered that for his said offence he should be committed to the Tower, and that the Speaker should issue his warrant accordingly ; the defendant, as Speaker, in execution of the said order, issued his warrant to the serjeant at arms, to whom the execution of such warrant belonged, to arrest the plaintiff and commit him to the custody of the lieutenant of the Tower; and issued another warrant to the lieutenant of the Tower to receive and detain the plaintiff in custody during the pleasure of the House ; by virtue of which first warrant the serjeant at arms went to the messuage of the plaintiff, where he then was, to execute it ; and because the outer door was fastened, and he could not enter, after audible notification of his purpose, and demand made of admission, he, by the assistance of the said soldiers, broke and entered the plaintiff’s messuage, and arrested and conveyed him to the Tower, where he was received and detained in custody under the other warrant, by the lieutenant of the Tower.

(1811) 14 East 1, [1811] EngR 83, (1811) 104 ER 501
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedJennings v Buchanan PC 14-Jul-2004
(New Zealand) (Attorney General of New Zealand intervening) The defendant MP had made a statement in Parliament which attracted parliamentary privilege. In a subsequent newspaper interview, he said ‘he did not resile from his claim’. He defended the . .
Appeal fromBurdett, Bart v The Right Honourable Charles Abbot CA 22-Apr-1812
. .
At Kings BenchBurdett (Bart) v Abbot (Speaker, House of Commons); And Burdett (Bart) Colman (Sergeant At Arms) PC 2-Jul-1817
To an action of trespass against the Speaker of the House of Commons forcibly and with the assistance of armed soldiers, breaking into the messuage of the Plainttiff (the outer door being shut and fastened), and arresting him there, and taking him . .
CitedPrebble v Television New Zealand Ltd PC 27-Jun-1994
(New Zealand) The plaintiff, an MP, pursued a defamation case. The defendant wished to argue for the truth of what was said, and sought to base his argument on things said in Parliament. The plaintiff responded that this would be a breach of . .
CitedBradlaugh v Gossett 9-Feb-1884
Bradlaugh, though duly elected Member for a Borough, was refused by the Speaker to administer oath and was excluded from the House by the serjeant at arms. B challenged the action.
Held: The matter related to the internal management of the . .
CitedChaytor and Others, Regina v CACD 30-Jul-2010
The defendants had been members of the Houses of Commons and of Lords. They faced charges of dishonesty in respect of their expenses claims. They now appealed a finding that they were not subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament under . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Constitutional, Torts – Other

Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.199235