R v Ghosh (Deb Baran)

[1982] EWCA Crim 2; [1982] QB 1053; [1982] 3 WLR 110

Meaning of dishonesty under the Theft Act 1968.


The defendant, Ghosh, was a locum consultant at a hospital who falsely claimed to have carried out a surgical operation in order to claim money when in fact that operation had been carried out by someone else under the National Health Service. He was charged with attempting to procure the execution of a cheque by deception contrary to s.20(2) of the Theft Act 1968 and obtaining money be deception under s.15(1). His defence was that there had been no deception as he was entitled to the money. He appealed to the Court of Appeal against his conviction.


The meaning of ‘dishonesty’ under the 1968 Act. The defendant argued that the trial judge had been wrong to direct the jury that they should apply contemporary standards of honesty in deciding whether the defendant was dishonest. He argued that deception had to be intentional or reckless under s.15 of the 1968 Act.


‘Dishonesty’ was a state of mind not a course of conduct. The test under the 1968 Act was both subjective and objective. First, the jury must decide whether the defendant’s conduct was dishonest according to the standards of reasonable and honest people (the objective test). If it was not, that would be the end of the matter. If it was dishonest by those standards, the jury then had to go on to decide whether the defendant himself realized that what he was doing was dishonest by those standards (the subjective test). If it was, then the defendant was ‘dishonest’ under the 1968 Act.