Stirland v Director of Public Prosecutions: HL 1944

The House considered what was the appropriate test for allowing a conviction to stand despite the finding of an irregularity in the trial.
Held: The House must be satisfied that there was ‘a situation a reasonable jury, after being properly directed, would, on the evidence properly admissible, without doubt convict.’ Assuming the wrong direction on law or the irregularity had not occurred and the trial had been free from legal error, would the only reasonable and proper verdict have been one of guilty?
Viscount Simon LC: ‘the provision that the Court of Criminal Appeal may dismiss the appeal if they consider that no substantial miscarriage of justice has actually occurred in convicting the accused assumes a situation where a reasonable jury, after being properly directed, would on the evidence, properly admissible, without doubt convict.’ It is a high and exacting test and we have come to be of the view, that it has not been passed in the present case.’ Where the verdict is criticised on the ground that the jury were permitted to consider inadmissible evidence, the question is whether no reasonable jury, after a proper summing up, could have failed to convict the appellant on the rest of the evidence to which no objection could be taken on the ground of its inadmissibility.
The word ‘charged’ means ‘charged in court’, not merely suspected or accused without subsequent prosecution.


Viscount Simon LC


[1944] AC 315, (1945) 30 Crim App R 40



Cited by:

CitedRegina v Pendleton HL 13-Dec-2001
The defendant had appealed his conviction for murder to the Court of Appeal. The 1968 Act required the court to consider whether the conviction was unsafe. New evidence was before the Court of Appeal, but they had rejected the appeal.
Held: . .
AppliedRegina v Associated Octel Ltd HL 14-Nov-1996
The appellants operated a chemical plant. When the plant was shut down for its annual maintenance, an independent firm repaired a tank lining. An employee of that firm was working by electric light. He had to clean the tank with acetone and resin. . .
CitedMichael Pringle v The Queen PC 27-Jan-2003
PC (Jamaica) The court considered the way in which statistical conclusions drawn from DNA evidence had been presented to the jury. The judge had fallen into the ‘Prosecutor’s Fallacy.’ Also the court had relied . .
CitedFarnell, Regina (on Application By) v Criminal Cases Review Commission Admn 15-Apr-2003
The appellant sought judicial review of the respondents refusal to refer his case back to the Court of Appeal.
Held: The Commission had misunderstood the way in which the Court of Appeal worked, by anticipating that it would reconsider the . .
CitedMichael Yearwood v The Queen PC 26-Jun-2001
PC (Grenada) The defendant appealed against his conviction for murder. He claimed a misdirection on provocation.
Held: The judge’s direction had been over elaborate, and gave too much weight to the old law. . .
CitedRegina v Davis, Rowe, Johnson CACD 17-Jul-2000
The court made a distinction between convictions found on appeal to be unfair, and those found to be unsafe. The prosecution had not disclosed to the defendants that the source of their information was a police informer. The European Court of Human . .
CitedKelleher, Regina v CACD 20-Nov-2003
The defendant, out of strong conviction, entered an art gallery and knocked the head from a statue of Margaret Thatcher.
Held: The court examined the breadth of the defence of ‘lawful excuse’ to a charge of criminal damage, and whether a court . .
CitedMichael Adams and Frederick Lawrence v Regina PC 18-Mar-2002
PC (Jamaica) The defendants appealed against convictions for non-capital murder. Because of delays, the defendants had served almost the full minimum sentence.
Held: The trial judge had heard a plea of no . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice

Updated: 17 July 2022; Ref: scu.182510