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Misconduct in public office

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The Law Commission has announced a review into the law on misconduct in public office saying that the offence is too vague.  In particular, the Commission says that the terms “public office” and “misconduct” are not well defined, which makes it difficult to know who is or is not in a public office and what conduct is or is not misconduct.
This report appears to have been inspired by a number of failed prosecutions of journalists for aiding and abetting misconduct in public office.
What does the law say?
We will take this question in stages, working through the definition of the offence as it currently stands to see how clear (or murky) this offence really is.
Misconduct in judicial or public office is a judge-made crime, meaning that it was not created by any Act of Parliament and so is defined wholly according to cases that have come before the courts over the years.
The leading case is the AG’s Reference (No. 3 or 2003), in which Pill, LJ gave judgment stating that the offence is c…