R v Anderson (William Ronald)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Scarman,Lord Diplock,Lord Keith of Kinkel,Lord Bridge of Harwich,Lord Brightman
Judgment Date11 July 1985
Judgment citation (vLex)[1985] UKHL J0711-2
Date11 July 1985
CourtHouse of Lords

[1985] UKHL J0711-2

House of Lords

Lord Scarman

Lord Diplock

Lord Keith of Kinkel

Lord Bridge of Harwich

Lord Brightman

(on Appeal from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division))
Lord Scarman

My Lords,


I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech to be delivered by my noble and learned friend, Lord Bridge of Harwich. I agree with it and for the reasons my Lord gives I would dismiss the appeal.

Lord Diplock

My Lords,


I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech of my noble and learned friend, Lord Bridge of Harwich. I agree with it and for the reasons which he gives I would dismiss the appeal.

Lord Keith of Kinkel

My Lords,


For the reasons given in the speech to be delivered by my noble and learned friend Lord Bridge of Harwich, with which I entirely agree, I too would dismiss the appeal.

Lord Bridge of Harwich

My Lords,


On 14 March 1983 the appellant was indicted at the Lewes Crown Court with Ahmed Andaloussi, Mohammed Andaloussi and Mohammed Assou that he had conspired with his co-defendants and persons unknown to effect the escape of Ahmed Andaloussi, a prisoner lawfully detained at Her Majesty's Prison, Lewes. The two Andaloussis, who were brothers, pleaded guilty. Assou was duly tried and convicted. The trial in relation to the appellant pursued a somewhat unusual course. At the conclusion of the case for the prosecution, the appellant made an unsworn statement from the dock. The trial judge, Judge Gower Q.C., thereupon invited submissions from counsel for the Crown and counsel for the appellant, in the absence of the jury, as to the effect in law of the appellant's account, if the jury were to accept that it might be a true account, of the part which he had played in the matters leading to the prosecution, according to the evidence of what he had said to police officers called for the Crown and in his unsworn statement from the dock. The learned judge's entirely proper purpose was to seek counsel's assistance in what he saw as a potentially debatable question of law, on which he would in due course have to give an appropriate direction to the jury. However, at the end of the submissions, the judge delivered an extemporary opinion from the bench indicating the conclusion he had reached on the point at issue, his reasons for that conclusion, and how he proposed to direct the jury. This occupies eight foolscap pages of the transcript of the trial and concludes with the judge saying: "That is my ruling." It may seem pedantic to observe that this was not strictly correct, since there was no application before the judge on which he was required to give any ruling. He was merely giving an advance indication, for the benefit of counsel, as to how he would in due course sum up to the jury. But there followed a series of exchanges between the judge and counsel for the appellant in which counsel sought to obtain, and the judge volunteered, further clarification of the "ruling" he had given. In the upshot, counsel for the appellant requested that the indictment be put to him a second time and on being re-arraigned the appellant pleaded guilty.


The appellant appealed against his conviction. Delivering the judgment of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) (Purchas L.J., Heilbron and Hobhouse J.J.) Purchas L.J. described the procedure followed as unfortunate. I agree that it was certainly irregular in a technical sense. But it does not seem to me, at the end of the day, to present any insuperable difficulty for the purpose of considering the appellant's appeal. First, as the Court of Appeal in my view rightly accepted, it was open to the appellant to challenge his conviction on appeal, notwithstanding his change of plea, if he could show that the judge's so-called "ruling" as applied to the facts which the appellant was prepared to admit was vitiated by such an error of law as would deny him the opportunity of acquittal to which, if the law was correctly applied to those facts, he was entitled. Secondly, although the issue for decision does not emerge with the same clarity as if the appeal were based on an alleged misdirection to the jury or on a complaint of a ruling, properly so called, having been erroneous (and in this respect I fully understand the Court of Appeal's criticism of the procedure followed) it nevertheless seems to me possible, from the totality of the material at the trial leading up to and including the appellant's change of plea, to distil the essential facts which must be taken to have been accepted as true by the appellant, and to determine whether upon those facts the judge was entitled to reach the conclusion, as in effect he did, that the appellant had no defence to the charge of conspiracy which he faced.


In a meticulously careful judgment the Court of Appeal examined at some length the relevant evidential material, the appellant's statement from the dock, the judge's "ruling" and subsequent exchanges with counsel in order to analyse the issue for their decision. Although I do not in any way criticise this approach, I believe it is both possible and legitimate to isolate the issue more shortly by setting out a summary of the relevant facts which were certainly accepted as true on the appellant's behalf in the argument before your Lordships, and proceeding to examine the issue of law to which those facts give rise.


In June 1981 the appellant and Ahmed Andaloussi were both in custody on remand in Lewes prison. Andaloussi was awaiting trial on charges of very serious drug offences and was rightly believed by the appellant to have large sums of money at his disposal. The appellant was on remand in connection with some entirely different matter. He spent one night in the same cell as Andaloussi. The appellant was then confidently expecting that in a short time he would be, as in the event he was, released on bail. During the night they spent together the appellant agreed with Andaloussi to participate in a scheme to effect Andaloussi's escape from prison. Other participants in the scheme were to be Ahmed Andaloussi's brother Mohammed and Mohammed Assou. They were to maintain contact with Ahmed in prison after the appellant's release. The appellant was to be paid £20,000 for his part in the escape scheme. It is not clear, nor is it significant for the purpose of any issue arising in the appeal, how far the details of the escape plan were worked out at the initial meeting in prison between the appellant and Ahmed Andaloussi. What is clear is that either at that meeting or after the appellant's release from prison and after one or more meetings between the appellant and Assou, it was agreed that the appellant would purchase and supply diamond wire, a cutting agent capable of...

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61 cases
  • Maycock et Al v Commissioner of Police
    • Bahamas
    • Supreme Court (Bahamas)
    • 28 April 1995
    ...agent as having any criminal intent, and reliance was placed upon a passage in the speech of Lord Bridge of Harwich in R v. Anderson [1985] 2 All E.R. 961 at 965, [1986] A.C. 27 at 38-39; but in that case Lord Bridge was dealing with a different situation from that which exists in the pres......
  • R v Outar (Roy), Jonathan Outar, Ralph Outar, Trevor Outar and Randal Titus
    • Jamaica
    • Court of Appeal (Jamaica)
    • 30 July 1999
    ...as having any criminal intent, and reliance was placed upon a passage of the speech of Lord Bridge of Harwich in R. v. Anderson [1985] 2 All E.R. 961 at 965, but in that case Lord Bridge was dealing with a different situation from that which exists in the present case. There may be many ca......
  • R v Ali (Liaquat)
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 9 July 2008
    ...of "any particular fact or circumstance" for the purposes of section 1(2). 13. We do not think there is anything in Anderson (1985) 81 Cr App R 253, or its consideration in Siracusa (1990) 90 Cr App R 340 to which Mr Campbell Clyne referred which casts doubt on that conclusion. A defendant ......
  • R v Siracusa and Others
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 26 May 1989
    ...jury at the end of the prosecution case. 11The appellants found their submission on the decision of the House of Lords in R. v. Anderson (1986) 1 A.C. 27. Before we examine the effect of that case, it is necessary to set out at some length how matters stood at the end of the prosecution cas......
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4 books & journal articles
  • Prevention of Harm—Legislative Strategies for Law Reform
    • United Kingdom
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The No. 72-3, June 2008
    • 1 June 2008
    ...n. 1 at para. 4.38).62 Law Commission, above n. 2 at para. 9.11 and Appendix A, para. A.31, and DraftBill cl. 1(3).63 See R v Anderson [1986] AC 27 at 38 where the House of Lords was clearlyanxious to avoid the mischief caused by the lack of any offence of merely offeringassistance to consp......
  • The Use of Lethal Force by Military Forces on Law Enforcement Operations — is There a ‘Lawful Authority’?
    • United Kingdom
    • Federal Law Review No. 37-3, September 2009
    • 1 September 2009
    ...thus there was indeed a conspiracy. The Privy Council distinguished this situation from that described by Lord Bridge in R v Anderson [1985] 2 All ER 961, 965, which related to there being no mens rea in state agents who 'pretend to join a conspiracy in order to gain information about the p......
  • House of Lords
    • United Kingdom
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The No. 49-4, November 1985
    • 1 November 1985
    ...is guilty of anoffence,nowusuallyreferredto asstatutoryconspiracy. In R. v.Anderson["1985]3W.L.R.268; 2 AllE.R.961,theHouseofLordswas calledupontodeterminethenatureofthemens rea to beestablishedbeforetheoffencecanbe said to beproved.Theappellantinthatcasehadpleadedguilty to an offenceunders......
  • Incitement—A Tale of Three Agents
    • United Kingdom
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The No. 65-6, December 2001
    • 1 December 2001
    ...Bridge in Anderson.'?7[1994)CrimLR 365.8'ContrarytotheTheftAct 1968. s. 15(1).9(1979)69 CrAppR282.10 Ibid. at296.11YipvR[1995)IAClll.12[1986)AC 27 at 39.517 The JournalofCriminal LawThere may bemanysituations in which perfectly respectable citizens, moreparticularly those concerned with law......

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