Attorney General's Reference (No. 1 of 1990)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Judgment Date13 Apr 1992

Court of Appeal

Before Lord Lane, Lord Chief Justice, Mr Justice Macpherson and Mr Justice Judge

Attorney-general's Reference (No 1 of 1990)

Criminal procedure - stay on prosecution - exceptional

Prosecution stays exceptional

Imposing a stay on a prosecution because of delay, even if the delay could be said to be unjustifiable, should be the exception rather than the rule, the Court of Appeal held in reserved judgment on a reference by the Attorney-general of a point of law under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972.

The reference followed an order by Judge Holden in Isleworth Crown Court in acceding to submissions on behalf of the respondent, an officer of the Metropolitan Police, to stay proceedings against him for two offences of occasioning actual bodily harm, contrary to section 47 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861, to the father and sister of brothers named Murphy on August 16, 1987.

Mr Anthony Hooper, QC and Mr Oliver Sells for the Attorney-general; Mr Anthony Arlidge, QC and Mr Peter Cooper for the respondent.

THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE, giving the judgment of the court, said that the respondent was called to an incident following a wedding party in west London. Two young men called Murphy were arrested and charged with public order offences.

As a result of the incident, a number of complaints by members of the public were made about the conduct of some of the police officers who had attended the incident. A formal investigation was mounted and, at the instance of the Director of Public Prosecutions, proceedings were launched against the respondent on March 2, 1989.

The case was committed to Isleworth Crown Court and came before Judge Holden on December 11, 1989. He acceded to the respondent's submissions and ordered the proceedings to be stayed. On December 22, the prosecution offered no evidence and a verdict of not guilty was entered by direction.

The question of delay was at the root of the reference.

The respondent was informed in the early hours of the day after the incident that a omplaint had been made against him. He did not take the opportunity to consult a solicitor until March 1989 nor did he before then carry out or arrange for the carrying out of any investigations.

An interim police report was submitted in September 1987 and further investigation of the complaint was deferred until the criminal proceedings against the Murphy brothers had been concluded, on January 19, 1988, when both were acquitted.


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271 cases
  • George Tan Soon Gin v Judge Cameron and Another
    • United Kingdom
    • Privy Council
    • 16 July 1992
    ...jurisdiction to halt criminal proceedings was correctly stated in Attorney-General's Reference (No 1 of 1990) (The Times April 15; [1992] 3 WLR 9, 18-19). The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle, Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Lord Mustill and......
  • R v F
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 21 July 2011
    ...and that no corresponding jurisdiction to bring the trial to an end on some equivalent basis before conviction exists, so Attorney-General's Reference (No 1) of 1990 established the principles to be applied in the context of delay, whether in cases involving delayed complaints of sexual abu......
  • R v Feltham Magistrates Court, ex parte Ebrahim ; Mouat v DPP
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
    • 21 February 2001
    ...employed in exceptional circumstances, whatever the reasons submitted for invoking it. See Attorney-General's Reference (No 1 of 1990) [1992] QB 630, 643G. 18 The two categories of cases in which the power to stay proceedings for abuse of process may be invoked in this area of the court's ......
  • R v Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, ex parte Hay ; R v Same, ex parte Police Complaints Authority
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division
    • 21 November 1996
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 books & journal articles
  • Subject Index
    • United Kingdom
    • International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The Nbr. 9-4, December 2005
    • 1 December 2005
    ...General v Hitchcock (1847) 154ER 38 (Exch. Ct) .........................................10 7Attorney-General’s Reference (No. 1 of 1990)[1992] QB 630, CA .....................................165Attorney-General’s Reference (No. 4 of2002); Sheldrake v DPP [2004] UKHL43 ............................
  • The interpretation and application of the right to effective participation
    • United Kingdom
    • International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The Nbr. 22-4, October 2018
    • 1 October 2018
    ...participation difficulties in the magistrates’ courts,see Law Commission (2016a: ch. 7); Bevan (2016).60. AG’s Ref (no 1 of 1990) [1992] QB 630 at 643; R (Ebrahim) vFeltham Magistrates’ Court [2001] EWHC Admin 130 at [17];R (TP) vWest London Youth Court, n. 26 at [14].61. R (TP) vWest Londo......
  • Lost and Destroyed Evidence: The Search for a Principled Approach to Abuse of Process
    • United Kingdom
    • International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The Nbr. 9-3, July 2005
    • 1 July 2005
    ...tape acted in perfect38 [2001] EWHC Admin 130, [2001] 1 WLR 1293 at [17].39 Ibid. at [26].40 Attorney-General’s Reference (No. 1 of 1990) [1992] QB 630 at 643, CA.41 J. C. Smith, ‘Trial: Abuse of Process—Destruction of Video Tape by Police’ [2000] Crim LR 415at 166 THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL......
  • Noticeboard
    • United Kingdom
    • International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The Nbr. 10-3, July 2006
    • 1 July 2006
    ...A. Choo,Abuse of Process and Judicial Stays of Criminal Proceedings (Oxford, 1993)) . In Attorney-General’s Reference No. 1 of 1990 (1992) 95 Cr App R 296 at 303, Lord Lane CJ said that adefendant who alleged abuse of process by reason of delay must prove seriousprejudice ‘on the balance of......
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