Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Delegation Principle & Friends of Freedom

by Brian Bamford
THE recent attack on a pensioner during the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Freedom Press at 84B, Whitechapel High Street in Whitechapel, and the altercation that has followed has opened up a can of worms.  It represents an interesting case in legal terms and I have written to the Secretary of the Friends of Freedom press accordingly:
'Since the events that occurred on the 22nd, June 2016, on the premises at 84B, Whitechapel High Street, an issue of the law relating to the Tort of Vicarious Liability has been raised in this context... The point here is does the Friends of Freedom Press have a 'particular legal relationship' to the persons who attacked me, and did the Friends 'exercise such care as a reasonably prudent person would use under similar circumstances'?'    
The precise relationship between the Friends of Freedom Press (the master) and the 'Collective' (the servant) is critical to the understanding of the mechanics of what takes place in the building known as Freedom Press, at 84B, Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel near Aldgate East Tube Station.  In the law of Tort, a master is held liable for acts of his servant performed in the course of the servant's employment. 

It has been noted that supplying liqour to a constable on duty is an offence requiring mens rea and yet (in Sherras v De Rutzen) a licensee may be vicariously liable for his servants' act in so doing (Mullins v Collins [1874]) and the same considerations apply to the offence of suffering gaming to be carried out in licensed premises. (Bosley v Davies [1875]) mens rea required; Bond v Evans [1888] licensee liable for servants' acts)

Perhaps a better example and somewhat more relevant to the situation at Freedom Press now pertaining is the case of Allen v Whitehead [1930] and this involves the 'Delegation Principle': 

Under the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, s.44, it is an offence to

'knowingly permit or suffer prostitutes or persons of notorious bad character to meet together and remain in a place where refreshments are sold and consumed'.

In the Allen v Whitehad case D, the occupier of a café, while receiving the profits of the business, did not himself manage it, but employed a manager.  Having had a warning from the police, D instructed his manager that no prostitutes were to be allowed to congregate on the premises and had a notice to that effect displayed on the walls.  He visited the premises once or twice a week and there was no evidence that any misconduct took place in his presence,  Then, on eight consecutive days, a number of women, known to the manager to be prostitutes, met together and and remained there between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.  In this case it was held by the Divisional Court that D's ignorance of the facts was no defence.  Thus the acts of the servant and his mens rea were both to be imputed to is master, not simply because he was a servant, but because management of the house had been delegated to him.

In Linnet v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1946] we have a closer example of the relationship between the Friends of Freedom Press and Andy Meinke, the manager of the freedom Bookshop who co-ordinates the 'Freedom Collective':

In the Linnet case it was held, following the case of Allen v Whitehead, that one of two co-licensees was liable for the acts of the other in knowingly permitting disorderly conduct in the licensed premises, although the other was neither his servant nor his partner, but simply his delegate in 'keeping' the premises.

It is not clear if people like the Freedom Bookshop manager, Andy Meinke, or his colleague, Simon Saunders, can be categorised as servants or partners in their relationship to the Friends of Freedom Press who own the premises upon which Mr Meinke operates but they would certainly appear to be their 'delegate' and seemingly the delegation principle would apply here in so far as he is 'keeping' the premises.  And if these people (Meinke and Saunders) are indeed 'delegates' then the Friends of Freedom Press could well be viciously liable for the acts of these delegates.*

In this respect the Friends could be liable for not only what took place during the altercations between these delegates at the time of the Friends of Freedom Press AGM when many of the affiliated Friends were actually on the premises, but they could also be liable for the actions of these delegate parties when the Friends are not on the premises such as at 'Socials' at which drink may be sold without a licence etc. by these same  delegates.  In these circumstances is no defence for the Friends of Freedom Press to claim that they had no knowledge of the actions of these delegates.  The situation is complicated slightly by the fact that we have learned that Donald Rooum, a Friend of Freedom Press re-elected at the last AGM, has been financing the 'Collective' out of his own pocket. 


*  Criminal Law, Smith & Hogan [1978]

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