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Offences – mens rea

This was a pre-trial appeal of a ruling at a preparatory hearing. The two appellants (A) faced charges under s17 Terrorism Act 2000 of sending money overseas, or arranging to do so, knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect it would, or might, be used for terrorism.

At issue was the correct meaning of ‘has reasonable cause to suspect’ under s17(b). The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the appeal judges that the wording requires an objective test: that on the information known to A, there was, assessed objectively, reasonable cause to suspect that the money would be used for terrorism.

The SC made clear that the first port of call for any issue of statutory construction is the words of the Act, and the wording of s17(b) suggests an objective test for mens rea at first sight. The SC said it was very difficult to see this statutory provision as silent as to the intent required for this offence. Furthermore, the statutory context of financing terrorism offences shows it was Parliament’s 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’. R v Lane [2018] UKSC 36. Source: www.bailii.org.

 

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