Judgments - B (By His Mother and Next Friend) v. Director of Public Prosecutions

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I am conscious that the decision by this House to allow this appeal may make it more difficult to convict those who are guilty of an offence under Section 1(1) of the Act of 1960 and thus reduce the protection given to children, but I have come to the conclusion that as Parliament has failed to state by express provision or by necessary implication that mens rea as to age is not necessary, the legal presumption stated by Lord Reid that mens rea is required must be applied. If Parliament regards the decision in this case as giving rise to undesirable consequences it will be for it to change the law, and I share the regret of Brooke L.J. expressed in his judgment at page 136A-H that Parliament does not take account of the expert advice which it has received over the years from the Criminal Law Revision Committee and the Law Commission, and does not address its mind, in enacting legislation creating or restating criminal offences, to the issue whether mens rea should be a constituent part of the offences and does not state in clear terms whether or not mens rea is required.

 
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