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Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001

Section 39: Intimidation of witnesses

119.This section and sections 40 and 41 create two new offences intended to increase protection for witnesses in all proceedings other than proceedings for a criminal offence. The new offences are similar to offences under section 51 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which provide protection to witnesses in proceedings for a criminal offence.

120.Subsection (1) makes it an offence for a person to intimidate another person (the victim) where he knows or believes that the victim is or may be a witness in any relevant proceedings with the intention of perverting, obstructing, or interfering with the course of justice. The offence covers only those acts done after the commencement of relevant proceedings. Relevant proceedings and commencement of proceedings are defined in section 41.

121.Subsection (2) says that, for the purposes of subsection (1) it is immaterial:

  • whether the act in question is carried out in the presence of the victim;

  • whether it is done to the victim himself or a third party and;

  • whether the obstruction, perversion or interference with the course of justice quoted above is the predominating intention of the person doing the act.

122.Subsection (3) creates a presumption that the defendant intended to pervert, obstruct or interfere with the course of justice if it is proved that he did an act which intentionally intimidated another person, and did the act knowing or believing that the person in question was or might be a witness in relevant proceedings. The defendant is entitled to call evidence to rebut the presumption and to do so he need only satisfy the court on the balance of probabilities that he did not have a motive.

123.Subsection (5) provides a wider definition of what constitutes a witness for the purposes of this section. A witness under this definition includes a person who provides or is able to provide information, a document or some other document which might be used in evidence in the proceedings or might:

  • confirm other evidence which will or might be admitted in those proceedings;

  • be referred to in the course of evidence given by another witness in those proceedings; or

  • be the basis for cross examination during those proceedings.

It does not matter for these purposes whether the information document or other thing is itself admissible in evidence.

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