Misconduct in a public office: should it still be prosecuted?

Simon Parsons

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This article examines the common law crime of misconduct in a public office from its ancient origins, and considers the difficulties in defining the crime. These difficulties arise from the crime being very widely defined as it includes non-feasance, misfeasance, frauds and deceits, malfeasance and oppression. It is unclear whether these are separate categories or if they run into one another. It is also unclear if the crime is a conduct crime or whether material damage is required. It appears that the DPP requires material damage before a prosecution can take place. The article argues that as the elements of the crime are so uncertain, it should no longer be prosecuted especially in view of the availability of alternative statutory offences which could be charged instead of the misconduct crime. These statutory offences have the certainty which the misconduct crime lacks and they thus enable public officials to judge their future conduct.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-185
JournalThe Journal of Criminal Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


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