On appeal from: [2017] EWCA Crim 129

This appeal considered whether the phrase in the Terrorism Act 2000, s 17(b) ‘has reasonable cause to suspect’ has the same meaning as ‘has a reasonable suspicion’.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. The Court considered the principle that whenever a statutory section creates a criminal offence but does not refer to the offender’s mens rea, there is a presumption that to give effect to the will of Parliament, the court must read in words requiring mens rea. It confirmed that the presumption must give way to either the plain meaning of the words of the statute, or to other relevant pointers to meaning which clearly demonstrate what was intended. The Court cannot substitute the plain words used by Parliament for a different provision on the grounds that the court would have done so differently by providing for an element, or a greater element, of mens rea.

The Supreme Court concluded that the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1989 introduced the words “knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect” in place of the previous legislation which was worded “knowing or suspecting”. As the changes were deliberate, it must have been the Parliamentary intention to widen the scope of the offences to include those who had, objectively assessed, reasonable cause to suspect that the money might be put to terrorist use. As such, the requirement for proof of actual suspicion was removed.

For judgment, please download: [2018] UKSC 36
For Court’s Press Summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (19 Apr 2018 morning session)