Law Report: Practice guidance on committal cases: DPP v Channel 4 Television Co Ltd; AG v Mantoura (Practice Guidance). Queen's Bench Divisional Court (Lord Justice Woolf and Mr Justice Pill), 31 July 1992
In a separate statement, handed down afterwards, the Divisional Court gave guidance on questions of jurisdiction and forum raised in two contempt cases in which it had just given judgment.
In the first case the Director of Public Prosecutions had applied for fines or writs of sequestration against Channel 4 and Box Productions Ltd for breach of an order by Judge Clarkson QC at Middlesex Crown Court on 31 October 1991, under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, requiring them to disclose to the police information obtained when making a television documentary (see the Independent, 5 August 1992).
In the second case (on right) the Attorney General had applied for Mr Jack Mantoura to be committed to prison or fined for breaching an undertaking given to Judge Rivlin QC at Southwark Crown Court to pay pounds 25,000 compensation to the victim of a fraud committed by his son.
LORD JUSTICE WOOLF said the Crown Court, under section 45(4) of the Supreme Court Act 1981, had 'the like powers, rights, privileges and authority of the High Court' in relation to contempt.
The High Court's power to make an order on its own motion against a person guilty of contempt was expressly preserved by Order 52, rule 5 of the Rules of the Supreme Court.
However, Order 52, rule 1(2) provided that: 'Where contempt of court (a) is committed in connection with . . . (ii) criminal proceedings, except where the contempt was committed in the face of the court or consisted of disobedience to an order of the court or breach of an undertaking to the court . . . then an order of committal may be made only by a Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division.'
It was accepted that since both these applications fell within the exception to Order 52, rule 1(2)(a)(ii), they were not ones where a committal order could be made only by a Divisional Court. Both the Crown Court and Divisional Court had jurisdiction to deal with them. The problem was which was the appropriate forum.
In his Lordship's judgment, the Channel 4 case exemplified the type of application which should invariably be heard by the Divisional Court.
The Mantoura case, although less sensitive, was on its facts also well suited to disposal by the Divisional Court.
If, however, an application was dealt with in the Crown Court, it was important to recognise the need for justice to be seen to be done.
The judge should not appear to be a prosecutor acting in his own cause.
A judge should only act of his own motion if: (a) the contempt was clear; (b) it affected a trial in progress or about to start; (c) it was urgent and imperative to act at once to prevent justice being obstructed or undermined and to preserve the integrity of the trial; and (d) no other procedure would meet the ends of justice.
However, where a contempt occurred in the Crown Court, the judge need not appear in the position of prosecutor: an application could be made by the DPP through the CPS, or by another Crown Court judge.
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Pornhub star Mia Khalifa receives death threats after being ranked the site's top adult actress
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To promote and sell the Company...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...
£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Business: This company is going thro...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment are currently working...