Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rejection of appeal

Mr Justice Angus Hamilton turned down the Crown's appeal (see appeal and my comments on the appeal)

Anyhow here is what Mr Justice Hamilton had to say:

R v Ditchfield and Ors

Refusal to state a case

In accordance with Section 111(5) of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980 I decline to state a case on the basis of the current application as it is frivolous, and in particular it is misconceived (R v North West Suffolk (Mildenhall) Magistrates Court [1998] Env LR 9 – defining ‘frivolous’).

The CPS application repeatedly significantly misrepresents the contents of the judgement delivered at the end of the case and therefore seeks to challenge the decisions reached on wholly erroneous bases. The CPS application also muddles factual decisions with decisions of law and it is not open to the CPS to seek to appeal findings of fact. A very lengthy and detailed judgement was produced at the end of this matter, although this is not a requirement for trials in the Magistrates Court. The judgement was designed to be of assistance to all the parties in the case. In these circumstances the very least the CPS should do is to read the judgement fully and, if appropriate, frame their application based on what was actually decided rather than what they seem to believe was decided. The CPS also needs to make a significantly better effort to identify any claimed errors of law as distinct from findings of fact.

In particular:

  1. Ground 1 objects to a finding made about the defendants’ motives. This is clearly a finding of fact and not open to challenge.
  2. Ground 2 – this wholly misrepresents the findings in relation to ‘force’. The judgement did NOT find that the defendants’ actions amounted to force but that there were authorities that legitimised actions short of force that could be used in the prevention of crime (page 47 of the judgement onwards). Authorities in support of this analysis are clearly set out. It is of great concern to me that the CPS are seeking to misrepresent the conclusions in this way.
  3. Ground 3 misrepresents the evidence heard by the court – the evidence referred to was factual evidence relating to criminal offences said to have occurred at the DSEI arms far and was not evidence as to the ‘legality of the defendants’ acts’ which would be inadmissible opinion evidence on a matter entirely for the court to decide.
  4. Ground 4 again appears, as it is written, to challenge a finding of fact. The Ground also asserts incorrectly that the judgement is silent on issues that are clearly addressed - namely the crimes the defendants believed were being committed and the perpetrators.

Angus Hamilton DJ(MC)
5 May 2016

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