Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Date Produced: 27 April 2009
Title: Administration of Justice
Offence: Perjury
Legislation: Perjury Act 1911 section 1
Mode of Trial: Indictable only
Statutory Limitations & Maximum Penalty: 7 years imprisonment

Aggravating & Mitigating Factors
See factors in main text under R v Archer

Relevant Sentencing Guidelines
R v Archer [2003] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 86 is the only guideline case.

Factors to be considered include:

  • the number of offences
  • whether planned or spontaneous
  • whether they were persisted in
  • whether the lies told or fabrications embarked upon had any actual impact on the proceedings in question;
  • whether the activities of the offender drew in others
  • the relationship between others drawn in and the offender
  • the whole course of conduct

No distinction should be drawn as to level of sentence according to whether the proceedings concerned were of a civil or criminal nature. Perjury may be comparatively trivial in criminal proceedings or very serious in civil proceedings. Whether the proceedings were civil or criminal is one of the factors to be considered.

See below for details of the case

Relevant Sentencing Case Law
R v Dunlop [2001] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 27. Tried twice for murder, jury failed to agree, discharged; written confession some years later. 6 years imprisonment concurrent on both counts upheld. The punishment had to be commensurate with the gravity of the original offence and yet not be seen as a punishment for that original offence.

R v Archer [2003] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 86.Appellant was the plaintiff in libel proceedings arising from newspaper allegations that he had had sexual intercourse with a prostitute. Convicted following trial on four counts and sentenced as follows:

Perverting the course of justice by procuring a false alibi - two years imprisonment.
Perverting the course of justice by concealing the existence of a diary, providing his secretary with a blank diary and details to fill in, and using it as genuine - four years imprisonment.
Perjury by falsely swearing an affidavit about documents in his possession - three years imprisonment.
Perjury that the diary was in existence and contained certain entries - four years imprisonment.
all sentences to run concurrently.

Sentences upheld on appeal.

R v Cunningham [2007] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 61. Kidnapped by a gang, detained overnight, subjected to violence and made to contact his partner and demand money. At their trial he gave false evidence to the effect that he had not been kidnapped and that he had instigated the violence. His defence of duress was rejected. Four years imprisonment upheld.

R v Adams [2004] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 15. Gave supporting evidence for a friend being tried for possession with intent. 18 months imprisonment upheld.

R v Healey (1990) 12 Cr.App.R.(S.) 297. Fine defaulter gave false evidence of means. 6 months imprisonment upheld.

R v Hall (1982) 4 Cr.App.R.(S.) 153. Gave false alibi evidence for another in a magistrates' court trial. 3 months imprisonment upheld.

Recent Decisions reported in CSP at B8-1.3 divided into: perjury in proceedings in magistrates' courts; perjury in civil proceedings; perjury in proceedings relating to serious crime.

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