Perverting the course of justice

Ashmans Solicitors – specialist solicitors representing those suspected of or arrested on a charge of perverting the course of justice in the UK.

Perverting the course of justice carries a maximum jail sentence of life imprisonment. In order to found guilty of perverting the course of justice, a court must prove that you have carried out any one of the following:

⦁    Intimidating or interfering with a witness, judge or juror.
If you intimidate or harass someone related to a court case, this is considered perverting the course of justice.

Intimidation is defined by the law as intending to deter someone from giving evidence in court by either:
• physically or financially harm someone, or
• threatening a third party (someone like a relative of a case witness)

⦁    Disposing of or fabricating evidence.
Tampering or damaging any evidence linked to a case is perverting the course of justice and it is a criminal offence.

Disposing of evidence means getting rid of something that is key in solving the case, for example throwing away a letter containing proof of someone’s guilt. If you fabricate evidence, this involves changing or creating false evidence with the aim of misleading the court.

⦁    Falsely accusing someone of committing a crime, which results in their arrest.

If someone makes a false accusation of a crime against someone else and they know the accusation is false, this will be treated as a perversion of the course of justice.

Similar crimes such as perjury, fraud and witness tampering can also fall under the ‘perverting the course of justice’ umbrella but would be charged under the relevant statutory law for each.

Perverting the course of justice examples

Recent high-profile convictions for perverting the course of justice include:

⦁    Former cabinet minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce were jailed for eight months for perverting the course of justice. Huhne had admitted asking Pryce to take his speeding points to avoid losing his licence in 2003 and Pryce was convicted of having agreed to do so.

⦁    Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan were convicted of false imprisonment, kidnap, and perverting the course of justice – and sentenced to eight years imprisonment - after they kidnapped and drugged Karen’s nine-year-old daughter in order to claim the reward money offered for her safe return. 


Perjury is when you give a statement that you know is untrue. It is another way of perverting the course of justice and, if found guilty, you could face a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment and/or a large fine.

A perjury conviction cannot be solely based on a witness claiming a statement is false. There must be some other evidence too, such as a letter written by the defendant contradicting their oral statement.

Defences and sentence for perverting the course of justice

Some defences that have been successfully given for perverting the course of justice include the action being a genuine mistake or error, out of necessity under certain circumstances, and duress or coercion from a third party.

The maximum sentence that a court can impose on someone found guilty of perverting the course of justice is life imprisonment and/or a large fine. However, in most cases, the Crown Prosecution Service recommends a prison sentence of between four and thirty-six months for this crime.

Specialist criminal law solicitors with experience in defending those questioned or arrested on charges of perverting the course of justice

Do you need help over a charge or police questioning related to perverting the course of justice? Call 03330096275 (or our emergency 24h line 03330096275) to talk in confidence with one of the UK’s leading criminal law defence solicitors, Ashmans Solicitors.

You can also use out free online enquiry form or email us at We’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

We communicate in plain English with all clients. Depending on your circumstances, Legal Aid may be available.


Have you been arrested by the police or charged with any Fraud matter? If so, call Ashmans Solicitors in confidence now on 03330 096 275 (24hrs).

Our expert lawyers are here to provide you with the very best in legal advice and representation 24 hours a day. You can also use our free online enquiry form or email us at .

We will get back in touch with you quickly, no matter what time of day or night.


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