Practice and Procedure

R (On the application of TAYLOR) v MAIDSTONE CROWN COURT (2003)

PUBLISHED October 17, 2003

Maidstone Crown Court had erred in failing to give adequate reasons for its decision to prefer the evidence of a single prosecution witness who had previously made a false accusation of harassment against the applicant.Application for judicial review of a decision of Maidstone Crown Court on 14 February 2003 to dismiss the applicant's ('T') appeal against her conviction for harassment at Sittingbourne Magistrates' Court under s.2 Protection from Harassment Act 1997. At the Crown Court the only prosecution witness was the complainant ('B'). T gave evidence that B had previously made a false accusation of harassment against her, which fact was not disputed. In a short statement the court merely stated that it had considered the evidence of T and B and preferred the evidence of B. However, it later filed additional reasons for its decision with its acknowledgement of service. On this application T argued that: (i) in reliance on R v Harrow Crown Court, ex p Dave (1994) 1 WLR 98, under certain circumstances the court was under an obligation to give reasoning for its acceptance of the prosecution case; (ii) in circumstances where it was unchallenged that B had previously made a false allegation of harassment against her the court was under such an obligation; and (iii) accordingly, the court had not given sufficient reasons for its decision and its failure so to do was a breach of natural justice.HELD: (1) Where there was a compelling point for the defence the Crown Court was obliged to deal with that point. (2) Whilst the Crown Court had filed further evidence with its acknowledgement of service, that evidence could not be taken into account in these proceedings. Only the original reasons could be taken into account. No weight could be given to any ex post facto reasoning James Edward Pullum v Director of Public Prosecutions (2000) COD 206 considered). (3) In this case, given the prior false statement by B, there was a clear obligation on the Crown Court to give a more detailed explanation. It was not a simple or obvious case. (4) In those circumstances there would be a direction to quash the decision.Application allowed.

[2003] EWHC 2555 (Admin)