The principle of “Public office, Public trust” has been discussed before on this website, notably by Tim Smith in 2012, and again in July 2014, and further, in October 2014, Tim discussed public trust in the context of urban planning.

Thanks to David Lusty,  Special Counsel, Australian Securities and Investments Commission,  we can now share with you his most excellent synopsis of how the principle of public trust stands behind and informs the offence of misconduct in public office. This article, written by David in a personal capacity, explores the antecedents to the idea of public trust and then shows how it has informed modern principles of public office.

A PDF of this article, first published in Criminal Law Journal, Thomson Reuters, is available here with their kind permission.

Lusty, D. “Revival of the Common Law Offence of Misconduct in Public Office” (2014) 38 Criminal Law Journal 337


The ancient common law offence of misconduct in public office has recently
enjoyed a major resurgence in many jurisdictions, including New South Wales
and Victoria, yet it has received relatively little attention from academics and
commentators. This article presents a comprehensive analysis of the offence,
drawing upon historical precedents and contemporary case law from around
the world. It is submitted that this 800-year-old offence has stood the test of
time and continues to provide a crucial mechanism for preserving the integrity
and fidelity of public officials, including Members of Parliament and Ministers of
the Crown.

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