Committing perjury is a serious offence, conviction for which is likely to result in a prison sentence.
Cagin Husnu of Kangs Solicitors outlines the basics of the offence.
What is Perjury? | Kangs Criminal Offence Advisory Team
Section 1 (1) Perjury Act 1911 provides:
‘If any person lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter in a judicial proceeding wilfully makes a statement material in that proceeding, which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, he shall be guilty…’
In the case of R v Warne (1980) 2 Cr. App.R. (S) 42 Chapman J stated that the offence of perjury was:
‘one of the most serious offences on the criminal calendar because it wholly undermines the whole basis of the administration of justice’.
As will be seen from the Statutory Definition, the false statement has to be material and the maker has to have known it was false or did not believe it to be true.
It is not enough for the Prosecution simply to show that the defendant lied in court.
For example, if the defendant inaccurately described the colour of a motor vehicle involved in an incident, this may well not be relevant, unless the colour was important in identifying the vehicle.
The false testimony has to be relevant as opposed to trivial.
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