DPP v Morgan

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DPP v. Morgan
Court House of Lords
Citation(s) [1975] 2 WLR 913; [1976] AC 182
Mistaken belief

DPP v Morgan was a 1975 decision of the House of Lords which decided that an honest belief by a man that a woman with whom he was engaged with sexual intercourse was consenting was a defence to rape, irrespective of whether that belief was based on reasonable grounds. It remained the law until the enactment of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Case history[edit]

Morgan invited three friends to his house, and invited them to have sexual intercourse with his wife. The friends later claimed that Morgan told them that his wife was "kinky", and would feign protest. The four men forcibly overcame the wife's resistance and each one had intercourse without her consent.

The friends were charged with rape, and Morgan was charged with aiding and abetting the others to commit rape. He was not charged with rape because of spousal privilege.[1]


At trial the three men pleaded that they had honestly believed that Mrs Morgan had consented to sexual intercourse.

The trial judge directed the jury that the defendants would not be guilty of rape if they honestly believed that the woman was consenting and that belief in consent was reasonably held.

The jury convicted all four and they appealed.

House of Lords[edit]

The House of Lords found honest, mistaken belief in the victim's consent need not be reasonable to rebut a charge of rape.[2]

While the defendants won their legal argument, their convictions were nonetheless upheld. The judges found that no reasonable jury would have ever acquitted the defendants even had they been correctly directed by the trial judge as to the law.


  1. ^ "Sexual Offences". Sexual Offences. ANU College of Law. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Power, Helen. "Sexual offences, strict liability and mistaken belief: B v DPP in the House of Lords". Web Journal of Current Legal Issues. Retrieved 2 November 2011.