DPP v Morgan – 1976

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Last modified: 07/03/18 Author: In-house law team

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DPP v Morgan [1976] AC 182

Rape – Consent – Honest Belief to Consent – No Reasonable Belief Required if Honest and Genuine Belief to Consent


The defendant was a Royal Air Force Pilot and he had invited his friends over to have sexual intercourse with his wife. He told them that any signs of struggle were not to be seen as a lack of consent and that she enjoyed it. The men were convicted of rape, while Morgan was convicted of aiding and abetting his wife. The men had argued that they had the honest belief that the complainant had consented to sexual intercourse.


The defendant appealed on the direction of the trial judge. The issue in this case was concerning whether there could be a conviction for rape if the defendant honestly believed that the woman consented to sexual intercourse, if his belief was not based on reasonable grounds.


It was held that as long as a belief was genuine and honest pertaining to consent, it did not have to be a reasonable belief for a defence to rape. The focus was on the mens rea of rape; there had to be an intention to commit the crime, as well as a lack of consent. There was a requirement to know the woman had not consented or reckless to whether she did. Despite this decision, the conviction was upheld, as no reasonable jury would have found them not guilty, even if directed correctly by the judge. The complainant had clearly communicated her lack of consent for sexual activity in this case.

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