Friday, August 15, 2014

Search Warrants

The recent search of a celebrity's house raises a number of questions, not least that of who tipped off the press, and why. Troublingly, the Daily Mail has now added a nudge-nudge-wink-wink to its report, to the effect that further witnesses have come forward, without mentioning that they may exculpate Sir Cliff entirely. Does no one believe in Innocent Till Proved Guilty any more?

A lot of guidance has been given to the judiciary in the last while, much of it focused on the great interference in the subject's liberty that a warrant will cause. This excellent blog post gives great detail. An important point that has been neglected in the past is the need to give and record full reasons behind the application for the warrant and the magistrate or judge's decision.

I imagine that lawyers instructed by Sir Cliff Richard will be looking very closely indeed at the reasons endorsed on the paperwork behind this warrant.


  1. Who would trust South Yorkshire police?

  2. This behaviour is unacceptable. The lay justice system has long been the Achilles heel of our civil liberties: many of these amateurs simply rubber stamp police requests. It is not known who issued this warrant (although the High Court has held that the identities of JPs should be made public).

  3. A very useful linked blog post. Helps my understanding of my responsibilities as a JP.

  4. Quite apart from search warrants, there seems little excuse for 'dawn raids' to arrest suspects. First, whetever happened to the idea of asking someone 'to assist the police with their enquiries'? (i.e. no arrest, just a voluntary attendance at the police stataion). Secondly, why dawn? Entirely understandable if you are going to arrest some villain who might be armed or may have very good reason to abscond, but the indiscriminate use of arrests in 'dawn raids' in other circumstances (including recent celebrity arrests) is excessive.

    Non-violent suspects who are unlikely to abscond do not need to be arrested; they can simply be questioned under caution. The facts that they are invariably bailed confirms that an arrest was unnecessary in the first place.

    1. Bthe ecause "dawn raid" sounds much more exciting in the Daily Mail than: "warrant executed at 0730 because the early shift starts at 0700."


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