What is misconduct in public office?

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The elements of the offence are summarised in Attorney General's Reference No 3 of 2003 [2004] EWCA Crim 868.

The offence is committed when:

  • a public officer acting as such
  • wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself
  • to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder
  • without reasonable excuse or justification

The offence of misconduct in public office was defined in Russell On Crime, 12th Edition (1964) (J W Cecil Turner) in this way:

"Where a public officer is guilty of misbehaviour in office by neglecting a duty imposed upon him either at common law or by statute, he commits a misdemeanour and is liable to indictment unless another remedy is substituted by statute. The liability exists whether he is a common law or a statutory officer; and a person holding an office of important trust and of consequence to the public, under letters patent or derivatively from such authority, is liable to indictment for not faithfully discharging the office."

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0 https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/misconduct-public-office http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/2/