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perverting the course of justice


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Carrying out an act that tends or is intended to obstruct or defeat the administration of public justice. Common examples are inventing false evidence to mislead a court (in either civil or criminal proceedings) or an arbitration tribunal, making false statements to the police, stealing or destroying evidence, threatening witnesses, and attempting to influence jurors. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment and/or a fine. The common-law offence of perverting the course of justice overlaps with certain forms of contempt of court and with the separate offence of tampering with witnesses. It is not an offence, however, to offer money to someone to persuade him not to proceed with an action in the civil courts; nor is it an offence to offer to pay reasonable compensation to the victim of a crime, if he will agree not to take criminal proceedings (Criminal Law Act 1967 s 5(1). However, once he has made a statement to the police in connection with possible proceedings, it is an offence to attempt to induce him to withdraw or alter his statement.

Subjects: Law.


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