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Greg Callus @Greg_Callus
, 10 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
If you’re reading the story about the Tory MP admitting hacking the Labour MP, it’s important to realise that the date of the offence was on or around 24 April 2008. This is important, because it was before 1 October 2008. But why is that important?
When the Computer Misuse Act 1990 was first passed, section 1 was only a ‘summary’ offence. That means it can only be tried in a Magistrates’ Court. Section 127 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980 also means that the prosecution must be commenced within 6 months.
Except s.127 is subject to any Act saying differently. The Computer Misuse Act 1990 did say differently: it said, in s.11(2), 6 months not from when the crime was committed but rather from when the prosecutor had sufficient evidence to warrant proceedings.
But that section, in s.11(3) also provided for a 3-year backstop, so if you made it to the third anniversary of the offence, you were home & dry. But that was for the ‘summary’ offence.
The Police Reform Act 2006, at s.35, replaced s.1(3) of the Computer Misuse Act with a new s.1(3), which provided that the offence was ‘either way’: it could be ‘summary’ (s.1(3)(a)), or tried ‘on indictment’ (in the Crown Court with a jury). No 6-month limit on indictments.
But the Police Reform Act 2006 didn’t commence this provision immediately: it made the changes to the Scottish summary offence as of 1 Oct 2007, but the changes in England & Wales were not commenced until 1 Oct 2008. Section 11 was repealed the same date.
So even if there was an offence under s.1 CMA in this case, it would have been an offence under s.1 as it stood in April 2008, when there was only a summary offence (6 month limit from CPS having sufficient evidence, 3 year backstop from date of offence), per the then-s.11.
So unless I’ve got this quick review of Legislation.gov.uk wrong, anyone demanding criminal charges, or suggesting a 2-year sentence might be forthcoming, will be disappointed. You are quite rightly only subject to the law in force at the time.
I only say this because unless you’re a lawyer, that really wouldn’t be obvious from the publicly-available versions of legislation. Which is why the MoJ should really put more money into keeping legislation up to date and making case law more available. And lots of other things.
If you want to read more about that, and so many far more pressing stories of how the criminal justice system is being gutted to absolute breaking point, buy @BarristerSecret ‘s book, which I’ve just read this evening. I knew some of it, but even I was shocked. Staggering.
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