R v Luckett (Michael David) [2020] EWCA Crim 565

“This was one of a pair of recent cases, which tend to suggest that police officers and those who aspire to be police officers are still held to a higher standard than the public they are sworn to protect. It was a sentencing appeal following a plea of guilty by a former police officer, who had made use of information gathered in the course of investigating a drink driving offence to get in touch with the defendant and subsequently enter into a long-term personal relationship with her. He resigned from the police and pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office. His appeal against the sentence prompted the Court of Appeal to refer to earlier authorities on sentencing for misconduct in a public office by serving police officers and gave the court an opportunity to emphasise the gravity of the offence, whilst at the same time proving that the quality of mercy is not strained ...”

ADDED Thursday 26th November 2020

Re McGuinness (Atttorney General for Northern Ireland intervening) [2020] 3 All ER 827

“This case related to a serving prisoner who, as a member of the Ulster Defence Association, had been guilty of one of the most notorious atrocities during ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, when he had murdered three people and attempted to murder many more at an IRA funeral in Belfast. Having been sentenced to life imprisonment, he was one of those released early under the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement but had then engaged in further terrorist activity and been returned to prison. This case arose from a judicial review brought by the sister of one of his victims, challenging the decision of the Northern Ireland Prison Service that the six years he had spent on release on licence counted towards the calculation of his minimum tariff period, after which he would be eligible for parole. A question arose whether the judgment of the Queen’s Bench Divisional Court of Northern Ireland was given in a criminal cause or matter, resulting in a direct route of appeal to the Supreme Court or whether the appeal was to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division). It prompted the Supreme Court to review the historical development of the appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases and to formulate a clear test of when proceedings in the High Court will be characterised as being ‘in a criminal cause or matter’ ...”

ADDED Wednesday 25th November 2020

Mirchandani v Lord Chancellor [2020] EWCA Civ 1260

“The case was concerned with a private prosecution for fraud offences, which had ultimately resulted in a £20 million confiscation order and £17 million compensation orders. The private prosecutor’s unsuccessful submissions against a third party in proceedings to enforce the confiscation order had led to the unusual spectacle of the Lord Chancellor intervening and persuading a High Court judge to reverse her decision on a jurisdictional question and set aside the order she had previously made. It prompted the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) to conduct a comprehensive review of the primary and secondary legislation and the authorities on private prosecutions, confiscation, costs and the sometimes blurred lines between criminal and civil proceedings ...”

ADDED Tuesday 24th November 2020

R v Smith (Alec) [2020] 4 WLR 128

“The case was concerned with a historic sex allegation and involved multiple hearsay about a supposed confession by the alleged perpetrator when confronted with the allegation nearly half a century beforehand. The contentious evidence was adduced before the jury despite the prosecution having served no hearsay notice and the arguments on the appeal prompted the court to consider not only the operation of the multiple hearsay provisions but also to emphasise the importance of compliance with the Criminal Procedure Rules in relation to hearsay evidence, in order to ensure properly considered and articulated submissions and a structured decision on what can be complex and, in the words of the Court of Appeal, ‘tricky’ questions of procedure or evidence …”

ADDED Monday 23rd November 2020

R v Wangige (Joseph Karumba) [2020] EWCA Crim 1319

“This was a truly tragic case involving a hit and run collision in the early hours of the night, as a result of which the pedestrian sustained catastrophic injuries, which ultimately proved to be fatal. It resulted in two successive criminal prosecutions of the same defendant, in the first of which he pleaded guilty to and was sentenced for relatively minor offences and in the second of which the CPS sought to bring a much more serious charge, relating directly to the death of the victim. It prompted the Court of Appeal to review the authorities on the doctrine which, in the absence of special circumstances, precludes a subsequent prosecution based on substantially the same facts as resulted in a prior conviction ...”

ADDED Friday 20th November 2020

Secretary of State for the Home Department v Suffolk County Council [2020] 3 WLR 742

“This appeal was concerned with the intersection between immigration and asylum cases and family court proceedings, in particular, in relation to the assessment of risk that an individual may be subject to the barbaric practice of Female Genital Mutilation. The case had been referred to the President of the Family Division of the High Court, Sir Andrew McFarlane, to consider two important points of principle, namely: whether a family court judge had jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief against the Home Secretary, constraining the exercise of her powers of immigration control; and whether a finding by the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal in the context of an asylum application constrains the approach of the family court on a subsequent application for a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order. The Home Secretary was successful on the first point but aggrieved by Sir Andrew’s ruling on the second point and appealed to the Court of Appeal Civil Division …”

ADDED Thursday 19th November 2020

R (McCourt) v Parole Board for England and Wales [2020] EWHC 2320 (Admin)

“The case was linked a high-profile campaign for a change in the law relating to the release of life prisoners who refuse to reveal the whereabouts of their victims’ remains. This judgment related to judicial review proceedings brought with the aid of crowdfunding by the mother of a murder victim against a Parole Board decision to release the murderer despite his continuing refusal to accept his guilt, more than 30 years after the murder, and his continuing refusal to disclose what had become of his victim. It prompted the Divisional Court to review the authorities on standing to bring a judicial review application and to consider specifically the position of victims and their families regarding decisions of the parole board. The court also had to consider such issues as the extent of the board’s obligation to undertake inquiries, the requirement to detail the board’s reasons and the concept of procedural fairness at Parole Board hearings under the applicable Rules, Code and Guidance.”

ADDED Wednesday 18th November 2020

R v Hepburn (Alex) [2020] EWCA Crim 820

“The case was concerned with a rape trial that included evidence about a game of sexual conquest, in which a group of professional cricketers playing for one of the leading teams in English county cricket competed with each other to see how many women they could sleep with over a 6-month period. The game was to be played out and the scores recorded on Whatsapp. It prompted the Court of Appeal to consider a series of separate but related concepts within the Bad Character provisions including evidence to do with the facts of the offence; important explanatory evidence; evidence of an important matter in issue between the prosecution and the defence; material whose prejudicial effect outweighs its probative value; as well as related issues such as the tenor of cross-examination by prosecution counsel and a trial judge’s warnings to the jury about evidence of a particularly scandalous nature …”

ADDED Tuesday 17th November 2020

R v Black (Ludovic) [2020] EWCA Crim 915

“The appeal related to a prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office of a criminal conspiracy, involving high pressure selling to elderly and vulnerable customers in the context of a fraudulent investment scheme for government-backed renewable energy. It caused the Court of Appeal to consider the circumstances in which it will be appropriate for the trial judge to give adverse inference directions relating to silence in a police interview or alleged inadequacies in a defence statement ...”

ADDED Monday 16th November 2020

R v CB; R v Mohammed (Sultan) [2020] 2 Cr App R 305

“This important judgment comes in the wake of a series of high profile cases attracting widespread media coverage, often but not always prosecutions for sex offences, where the police have come under heavy criticism for alleged failings in their investigation of material stored on complainants’ mobile phones or other digital devices. The two otherwise unrelated appeals had been listed together, in order to allow the Court of Appeal to consider a number of generic issues relating to the retention, inspection, copying, disclosure and deletion of electronic records held by complainants and other prosecution witnesses …”

ADDED Friday 13th November 2020