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Conspiracy to defraud was defined in Scott v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis per Viscount Dilhorne:
"to defraud" ordinarily means … to deprive a person dishonestly of something which is his or of something to which he is or would or might but for the perpetration of the fraud be entitled.
....an agreement by two or more [persons] by dishonesty to deprive a person of something which is his or to which he is or would be or might be entitled [or] an agreement by two or more by dishonesty to injure some proprietary right of his suffices to constitute the offence....
Section 5(3) Criminal Law Act 1977 preserved the common law offence of conspiracy to corrupt public morals or of conspiracy to outrage public decency.
Conspiracy to corrupt public morals is an offence under the common law of England and Wales.
Conspiracy to outrage public decency is an offence under the common law of England and Wales.
Section 5(1) of the
One authority maintains that conspiracy to "corrupt public morals" has no definitive case law, that it is unknown whether or not it is a substantive offence, and that it is unlikely that conspirators will be prosecuted for this offence.
These two offences cover situations where, for example, a publisher encourages immoral behavior through explicit content in a magazine or periodical, as in the 1970 case of Knuller (Publishing, Printing and Promotions) Ltd v Director of Public Prosecutions, which ultimately was decided in 1973 by the House of Lords.
In the 1991 case of R v Rowley, the defendant left notes in public places over a period of three weeks offering money and presents to boys with the
This section does not
This offence was created as a result of the Law Commission's recommendations in their Report, Conspiracy and Criminal Law Reform, 1976, Law Com No 76. This was part of the Commission's programme of codification of the criminal law. The eventual aim was to abolish all the remaining common law offences and replace them, where appropriate, with offences precisely defined by statute. The common law offences were seen as unacceptably vague and open to development by the courts in ways which might offend the principle of certainty. There was an additional problem that it could be a criminal conspiracy at common law to engage in conduct which was not in itself a criminal offence: see Law Com No 76, para 1.7. This was a major mischief at which the 1977 Act was aimed,[
Section 1(1) of the
if a person agrees with any other person or persons that a course of conduct shall be pursued which, if the agreement is carried out in accordance with their intentions, either -
(a) will necessarily amount to or involve the commission of any offence or offences by one or more of the parties to the agreement, or (b) would do so but for the existence of facts which render the commission of the offence or any of the offences impossible, [added by S.5 Criminal Attempts Act 1981] he is guilty of conspiracy to commit the offence or offences in question.
Section 1A (inserted by the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998, s5) bans conspiracies part of which occurred in England and Wales to commit an act or the happening of some other event outside the United Kingdom which constitutes an offence under the law in force in that country or territory. Many conditions apply including that prosecutions need consent from the Attorney General.
There must be an agreement between two or more persons. The mens rea of conspiracy is a separate issue from the mens rea required of the substantive crime.
Lord Bridge in R v Anderson - quoted in R v Hussain said:
an essential ingredient in the crime of conspiring to commit a specific offence or offences under section 1(1) of the Act of 1977 is that the accused should agree that a course of conduct be pursued which he knows must involve the commission by one or more of the parties to the agreement of that offence or those offences.
Lord Bridge in R v Anderson also said:
But, beyond the mere fact of agreement, the necessary mens rea of the crime is, in my opinion, established if, and only if, it is shown that the accused, when he entered into the agreement, intended to play some part in the agreed course of conduct in furtherance of the criminal purpose which the agreed course of action was intended to achieve. Nothing less will suffice; nothing more is required.
It is not therefore necessary for any action to be taken in furtherance of the criminal purpose in order for a conspiracy offence to have been committed. This distinguishes a conspiracy from an attempt (which necessarily does involve a person doing an act) see
Lord Steyn in R v Hayter said:
The rule about confessions is subject to exceptions. Keane, The Modern Law of Evidence 5th ed., (2000) p 385–386, explains:
In two exceptional situations, a confession may be admitted not only as evidence against its maker but also as evidence against a co-accused implicated thereby. The first is where the co-accused by his words or conduct accepts the truth of the statement so as to make all or part of it a confession statement of his own. The second exception, which is perhaps best understood in terms of implied agency, applies in the case of conspiracy: statements (or acts) of one conspirator which the jury is satisfied were said (or done) in the execution or furtherance of the common design are admissible in evidence against another conspirator, even though he was not present at the time, to prove the nature and scope of the conspiracy, provided that there is some independent evidence to show the existence of the conspiracy and that the other conspirator was a party to it.
Here, nine students, who were nationals of
These offences were at one time tied up with prostitution and homosexual behaviour. After the Second World War, due to the fame of several convicts, the
In the case of Knuller (Publishing, Printing and Promotions) Ltd v. D.P.P. which was decided 1973 in the
The appeal on count 1 was dismissed, while the appeal on count 2 was allowed because in the present case there had been a misdirection in relation to the meaning of "decency" and the offence of "outrage". The list of cases consulted in the ratio decidendi is lengthy, and the case of Shaw v. D.P.P. is a topic of furious discussion.
In Withers v Director of Public Prosecutions, which reached the House of Lords in 1974, it was unanimously held that conspiracy to effect a public mischief was not a separate and distinct class of criminal conspiracy. This overruled earlier decisions to the contrary effect. The Law Commission published a consultation paper on this subject in 1975.