The common law offence of misconduct in public office is not limited to officers or agents of the Crown but applies also to local authority employees.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appellant's appeal against conviction of misconduct in a public office.
The appellant was employed by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council as the miscellaneous maintenance manager of the city works department, the council's direct labour organisation. He was convicted of dishonestly causing, when a holder of public office, work to be carried out at premises when those works were not required under the council's policy. The premises were let to the appellant's lady friend.
Anthony Barker QC (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; James Burbridge (CPS) for the Crown.
LORD JUSTICE HIRST said that the theme which ran through the cases over the past 200 years was that a "man accepting an office of trust concerning the public is answerable criminally to the King for misbehaviour in his office".
Henly v The Mayor and Burgesses of Lyme (1828) 5 Bing 91, although a civil case, correctly defined a public office as embracing "everyone who is appointed to discharge a public duty, and receives compensation in whatever shape, whether from the Crown or otherwise". No case limited the offence to officers or agents of the Crown.
The appellant was accountable for the receipt and disbursement of public money derived by the council either from rates or from central government grants. His salary was paid from the same public funds. He fell within the definition of public officer laid down in the authorities. The submission that his position was too lowly to qualify was no