We often receive tweets asking us to look at particular stories or to explain particular principles and yesterday was no different.
@uk_criminal_law be interested in post about what, if any, crime could be charged in UK court against that dreadful bloke who killed Foley
— John (@johnwithbeard) August 26, 2014
You are no doubt all aware of the dreadful murder of the American journalist James Foley. He was kidnapped and held hostage before being beheaded by a man wearing a face covering. The man is believed to be English. In fact, news outlets are reporting his name. Toronto’s ‘The Star’ state: “According to British media outlets, they have a “key suspect:” Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old British-Egyptian rapper from west London.”
So, could the man dubbed Jihadi John be tried in the UK?
Unusually, the answer appears to be extremely simple. Yes.
Offences against the Person Act 1861 s.9 is entitled ‘Murder or manslaughter abroad” and states:
Where any murder or manslaughter shall be committed on land out of the United Kingdom, whether within the Queen’s dominions or without, and whether the person killed were a subject of Her Majesty or not, every offence committed by any subject of Her Majesty in respect of any such case, whether the same shall amount to the offence of murder or of manslaughter, . . . , may be dealt with, inquired of, tried, determined, and punished . . . in England or Ireland . . .: Provided, that nothing herein contained shall prevent any person from being tried in any place out of England or Ireland for any murder or manslaughter committed out of England or Ireland, in the same manner as such person might have been tried before the passing of this Act.
So, there you have it. It matters not that the victim was not a British subject. Nor that it was committed abroad, outside “the Queen’s dominions” – all that matters it that “Jihadi John” is a “subject of Her Majesty”, (which, if the reports are correct and he is English, would appear to be satisfied) and that the conduct constitutes and offence of murder (or manslaughter) had it been committed in the UK (which again, appears to be satisfied).