Why R v Page is important?
In R v Page, the Court suggested that the ‘Under the Queen’s peace’ requirement prevents the killing of alien enemies in the course of war from being classified as murder.
This case also suggests that rebels who are actively engaged in hostile operations against The Crown at the time of their killing are not within the Queen’s Peace. Thus, they are not murder victims.
An Egyptian national was killed in Egypt by the defendant, Page, who was a British solider.
Conviction at Issue
Page was found guilty of murder by a court-martial. The defendant appealed, arguing that the court-martial did not have jurisdiction to try a British subject who had killed an alien whilst abroad.
The court-martial heard the case under s.9 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This allowed the murder of a non-British victim committed outside of England and Wales to be tried as if the act took place within England and Wales where the defendant is in custody.
Issues facing the Court
- Whether the court-martial did indeed have the power to hear the case.
- Whether there was a requirement that the victim must be a British subject to be ‘under the Queen’s peace.’
The court martial was held to have jurisdiction to try the case due to the application of s.9 OAPA 1861. Therefore, the defendant’s murder conviction was upheld.
The court acknowledged that the general rule of English law had originally been that offences committed outside of England by an English subject were not within the ambit of the criminal law of England and Wales. However, the court found that statue had since made exceptions to this rule. These statutory exceptions meant that the defendant could be tried of the offence of murder as if the act took place within England and Wales.
The court also stated that murder required ‘an unlawful killing with malice aforethought,’ with no requirement that the victim had to be a British subject for a killing done abroad to amount to murder.