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Masthead Local Govt - Governance and Risk

Common assault after meeting

Police photo iStockphoto standard 146x219The High Court has rejected a claim that a defendant's conviction for common assault after she had been escorted out of a meeting of a local Police & Crime Panel was unsafe. Claire Booth explains why.

In R (Skelton) v Winchester Crown Court [2017] EWHC 3118 (Admin) (Admin Ct) Teresa Skelton (S) applied for judicial review of the Crown Court's refusal to state a case on her appeal from the magistrates' court of an offence of common assault. 

She complained that the Crown Court should have dealt with a defence of lawful self-defence and failed to do so, thus rendering her conviction unsafe.

The claim related to an incident at a meeting of the local Police & Crime Panel that was being held in the county council's offices. The prosecution alleged that S had tried to disrupt the meeting, and had refused to leave when asked. A police community support officer (PCSO) and a senior police officer had escorted S from the hall, and once outside the hall S had kicked the PCSO in the shin.

The Crown Court preferred the prosecution's evidence that S had kicked the PCSO as had been alleged, she had kicked him in retaliation, the question of whether lawful force had been used to remove her from the hall did not arise since the assault occurred after she had been removed, and that she had not raised any issue of lawful self-defence in her evidence.

S contended that it was incumbent on the Crown Court to determine whether the PCSO was entitled to remove S from the hall by force, and that the court had erred in failing to consider the defence of self-defence.

The court held, dismissing the claim, that the questions raised did not properly fall within the High Court's jurisdiction to entertain an appeal by way of case stated, and that the Crown Court's refusal to state a case was not inappropriate or unlawful. The court had not erred in concluding that S's use of force was unlawful, and that there was no lawful justification for that use of force. S's questions, although framed as if they were questions of law, were all questions that went to its findings of fact and so were misconceived and academic or futile.

Claire Booth is an associate professional support lawyer at Bevan Brittan. She can be contacted on 0370 194 1705 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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