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Lawrence John Jones v Stephan Joseph Whalley

A private prosecution could be regarded as an abuse of the process of the magistrates’ court where a defendant had agreed to be formally cautioned by the police on the assurance that, if he agreed, he would not have to go before a criminal court.

4 August 2006

The appellant (W) appealed against the decision ([2005] EWHC 931 (Admin)) that the administration and acceptance of a police caution in respect of an offence were not sufficient to render the exercise of the right of private prosecution an abuse of process. W, an adult, had assaulted the respondent (J) and had accepted a written police caution in respect of an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The form of the caution stated that acceptance of the caution meant that W would not have to go before a criminal court. At the time, the procedure adopted when cautioning J was not governed by statute, but was subject to Home Office circulars on cautioning. J subsequently decided to bring a private prosecution against W. When the matter came before the magistrates, they stayed the proceedings as an abuse of process, but the Divisional Court lifted the stay. W submitted that since he had agreed to be cautioned on an express assurance by the police that he would not have to go ...

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