QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
 2 QB 414,  2 All ER 649,  3 WLR 17, 130 JP 322
HEARING-DATES: 3 May 1966
3 May 1966
“Case Stated. This was a Case Stated by W. A. SIME, ESQ., Q.C., in respect of his adjudication as Recorder of Grimsby Brough Quarter Sessions sitting at Grimsby on May 20, 1965. On that day the appellant, Leonard Rice, appeared before the recorder on appeal against a certain conviction at the Grimsby Borough Magistrates’ Court on an information laid by the respondent, Thomas Connolly, an inspector of police, for having on Mar. 8, 1965, in Victor Street in the county borough of Grimsby wilfully obstructed Oliver Baillie a constable of the Grimsby Borough Police Force in the due execution of his duty, contrary to s. 51 (3) of the Police Act 1964. The conduct alleged to amount to obstruction included refusing to accompany the constable to a police box for identification. The recorder dismissed the appeal and the appellant being dissatisfied with the said determination of his appeal as being erroneous in point of law requested the recorder to state a Case for the opinion of the High Court. The facts are summarised in the judgment of LORD PARKER, C.J.
The contentions before the recorder were as follows. For the appellant it was contended that although a police officer acting in the execution of his duty was entitled to ask a citizen questions, including questions as to his name and address, there was no legal duty on the citizen, in the absence of some obligation imposed by statute (and there was no such statute applicable in the present case) to answer such questions, nor in the absence of some statutory duty (and there was none in the present case) was there any duty on a citizen to accompany a police officer anywhere in order that his identity might be investigated; the citizen had a right to refuse to answer the questions put to him by the
constable and to refuse to accompany him to the police box; it followed, so it was contended, that the constable could not lawfully require answers to his questions and could not lawfully require the appellant to accompany him to the police box and that the appellant’s conduct had not amounted to an obstruction of the constable in the execution of his duty. For the respondent it was contended that at common law the citizen had a duty to assist the police in the investigation of crime and that there was therefore a legal duty on the appellant to answer the constable’s questions and to accompany him to the police box for the purpose stated, that the appellant had not discharged that legal duty and
that he had, therefore, obstructed the constable in the execution of his duty.
The recorder’s opinion is set out at p. 651, letter D, post. The question of law for the opinion of the High Court was whether the recorder was right in finding that the conduct of the appellant amounted to a wilful obstruction of the constable in the due execution of his duty.” DISPOSITION: Appeal allowed. Conviction quashed.
“Assault. The declaration stated, that the defendant had assaulted, beaten, and wounded the plaintiff. Pleas, first, to the whole declaration, not guilty; second (as to the assault and battery only), son assault demesne; third (to the assault and battery only), a special plea, which stated that the defendant was possessed of a public-house, and that the plaintiff was there making a noise and disturbance, and conducting himself in a quarrelsome manner; that the defendant requested him to depart, and that he refused to do so; and that the defendant then gently laid hands on him, and removed him from the house. Replication, de injuria.
From the evidence on the part of the plaintiff, it appeared that the plaintiff was in the defendant’s public-house, and that, in consequence of a dispute between them respecting payment for a pot of half-and-half, the defendant struck the plaintiff, who thereby received a cut under the eye, which bled.
Bompas, Serjt., in addressing the jury for the defendant, said that he must call witnesses, unless the jury were satisfied by the evidence that the defendant was entitled to a verdict…”
“…His Lordship (in summing up) said: If the violence which occurred took place in an endeavour by the defendant to turn the plaintiff out of the house, the third plea is proved. However, this plea does not profess to justify any wounding; therefore, if there was a wound, the plaintiff is entitled to recover for that. It is proved that the plaintiff was cut under the eye, and that it bled; and I am of opinion that that is a wound. If you think that the assault was not committed in an endeavour to turn the plaintiff out of the house, the justification entirely fails.” Verdict for the plaintiff on all the issues
Die Jovis 7° Novembris 1991
“On 3 October 1989 in the Crown Court at Durham the appellant, Mrs. Savage was indicted and convicted on a single count of unlawful wounding contrary to section 20 of the Act, the particulars of the offence being that on 31 March 1989 she unlawfully and maliciously wounded Miss Beal. She was ordered to undertake 120 hours of community service. The victim, Miss Beal, was a former girlfriend of Mrs. Savage’s husband. There had been some bad feeling between these two young women, although they had never previously met. On the evening of 31 March 1989 they were both in the same public house, but not together. Mrs. Savage pushed her way through to the table where Miss Beal was sitting with some friends. She had in her hand a pint glass which was nearly full of beer.
Having said “Nice to meet you darling”, she then threw the contents of the glass over Miss Beal. Unfortunately, not only was Miss Beal soaked by the beer, but, contrary to Mrs. Savage’s evidence, she must have let go of the glass, since it broke and a piece of it cut Miss Beal’s wrist. The Jury, by their verdict, concluded either that the appellant had deliberately thrown not only the beer but also the glass at Miss Beal or, alternatively, that while deliberately throwing the beer over Miss Beal, the glass had accidentally slipped from her grasp and it, or a piece of it, had struck Miss Beal’s wrist, but with no intention that the glass should hit or cut Miss Beal…”
I have had the opportunity of considering in draft the speech to be delivered by my noble and learned friend, Lord Ackner. I agree with it, and for the reasons which he gives I, too, would dismiss the appeal in Savage’s case and allow that in Parmenter’s case to the extent which he proposes.
(Application no. 4451/70)
21 February 1975
The Court recalls that on 20 March 1970 Golder petitioned the Home Secretary for permission to consult a solicitor with a view to bringing a civil action for libel against prison officer Laird and that his petition was refused on 6 April (paragraphs 16 and 18 above). While the refusal of the Home Secretary had the immediate effect of preventing Golder from contacting a solicitor, it does not at all follow from this that the only issue which can arise in the present case relates to correspondence, to the exclusion of all matters of access to the courts. Clearly, no one knows whether Golder would have persisted in carrying out his intention to sue Laird if he had been permitted to consult a solicitor. Furthermore, the information supplied to the Court by the Government gives reason to think that a court in England would not dismiss an action brought by a convicted prisoner on the sole ground that he had managed to cause the writ to be issued – through an attorney for instance – without obtaining leave from the Home Secretary under Rules 33 para. 2 and 34 para. 8 of the Prison Rules 1964, which in any event did not happen in the present case.
The fact nonetheless remains that Golder had made it most clear that he intended “taking civil action for libel”; it was for this purpose that he wished to contact a solicitor, which was a normal preliminary step in itself and in Golder’s case probably essential on account of his imprisonment. By forbidding Golder to make such contact, the Home Secretary actually impeded the launching of the contemplated action. Without formally denying Golder his right to institute proceedings before a court, the Home Secretary did in fact prevent him from commencing an action at that time, 1970. Hindrance in fact can contravene the Convention just like a legal impediment. It is true that – as the Government have emphasised – on obtaining his release Golder would have been in a position to have recourse to the courts at will, but in March and April 1970 this was still rather remote and hindering the effective exercise of a right may amount to a breach of that right, even if the hindrance is of a temporary character. The Court accordingly has to examine whether the hindrance thus established violated a right guaranteed by the Convention and more particularly by Article 6 (art. 6), on which Golder relied in this respect.
Conclusion on the question of right of access – I omit other points in order not further to overload this Opinion. But I have to conclude that – like it or not, so to speak – a right of access is not to be implied as being comprehended by Article 6.1 (art. 6-1) of the Convention, except by a process of interpretation that I do not regard as sound or as being in the best interests of international treaty law. If the right does not find a place in Article 6.1 (art. 6-1), it clearly does not find a place anywhere in the Convention. This is no doubt a serious deficiency that ought to be put right. But it is a task for the contracting States to accomplish, and for the Court to refer to them, not seek to carry out itself.
Hill (Administratrix of the Estate of Jacqueline Hill
deceased) (A.P.) (Appellant) v. Chief Constable of West
Die Jovis 28° Aprilis 1988
In 1975 a man named Peter Sutcliffe embarked upon a terrifying career of violent crime, centred in the metropolitan police area of West Yorkshire. All his victims were young or fairly young women. Between July 1975 and November 1980 he committed 13 murders and eight attempted murders upon such women, the modus operandi in each case being similar. Sutcliffe’s last victim was a 20-year-old student called Jacqueline Hill, whom
he murdered in Leeds on 17 November 1980. By chance, Sutcliffe was arrested in suspicious circumstances in Sheffield on 2 January 1981, and confessed to the series of murders and attempted murders following interrogation. On 22 May 1981, at the Central
Criminal Court, Sutcliffe was convicted of inter alia the murder of Miss Hill.
Miss Hill’s mother and sole personal representative now sues the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, claiming on behalf of Miss Hill’s estate damages on the ground of negligence, for inter alia loss of expectation of life and pain and suffering. The defendant is sued under section 48(1) of the Police Act 1964, enacting that the chief officer of police for any police area shall be liable in respect of torts committed by constables under his direction and control in the performance or purported performance of their functions. The plaintiff in her statement of claim sets out the 20 offences committed by Sutcliffe before the death of Miss Hill and avers that the circumstances of each of these were such that it was reasonable to infer that all were committed by the same man, and further that it was foreseeable that, if not apprehended, he would commit further offences of the same nature. The pleadings go on to allege that it was accordingly the duty of the defendant and all officers in his police force to use their best endeavours and exercise all reasonable care and skill to apprehend the perpetrator of the crimes and so protect members of the public
who might otherwise be his future victims. A substantial number of matters are set out and relied upon as indicating that the West Yorkshire police force failed in that duty. It is unnecessary to set out these matters in detail. They amount broadly to allegations of failure to collate properly information in possession of the force pointing to Sutcliffe as a likely suspect, and of failing to give due weight to certain pieces of information while according excessive importance to others.
The defendant, without delivering defences, applied under R.S.C., Ord. 18, r. 19 to have the statement of claim struck out as disclosing no reasonable cause of action. That application was granted by Sir Neil Lawson, sitting as a judge of the High court, on 19 December 1985. Upon appeal by the plaintiff the Court of Appeal  Q.B. 60 (Fox and Glidewell L.JJ. and Sir Roualeyn Cumming-Bruce), on 19 February 1987, affirmed Sir Neil Lawson. The plaintiff now appeals, with leave given in the Court of Appeal, to your Lordship’s House. In considering whether the statement of claim was rightly struck out it must be assumed that the averments of fact therein contained are true. In particular, it must be assumed that in the course of their investigations into the series of crimes committed by Sutcliffe the West Yorkshire police force made a number of mistakes which they would not have made if they had exercised a reasonable degree of care and skill such as would have been expected to be displayed in the circumstances by an ordinarily competent police force. It must also be assumed, though this is not specifically averred in the statement of claim, that had they
exercised that degree of care and skill Sutcliffe would have been apprehended before the date upon which he murdered Miss Hill, with the result that that particular crime would not have been committed.
The question of law which is opened up by the case is whether the individual members of a police force, in the course of carrying out their functions of controlling and keeping down the incidence of crime, owe a duty of care to individual members of the public who may suffer injury to person or property through the activities of criminals, such as to result in liability in damages, on the ground of negligence, to anyone who suffers such injury by
reason of breach of that duty.
This action is in my opinion misconceived and will do more harm than good. A policeman is a servant of the public and is liable to be dismissed for incompetence. A police force serves the public and the elected representatives of the public must ensure that the public get the police force they deserve. It may be that the West Yorkshire police force was in 1980 in some respects better and in some respects worse than the public deserve. An action for damages for alleged acts of negligence by individual police officers in 1980 could not determine whether and in what respects the West Yorkshire police force can be improved in 1988. I would dismiss the appeal.