HC Deb 11 July 1985 vol 82 c491W
Mr. Bright

asked the Attorney-General in how many cases during the last year the Director of Public Prosecutions has considered the institution of criminal proceedings arising out of chain wrestling competitions; what are the principles taken into account by the Director of Public Prosecutions in reaching decisions on such cases; and whether any such proceedings have been instituted.

The Attorney-General

The Director of Public Prosecutions has considered one case arising out of a "chain wrestling" competition. Chain wrestling competitions differ from the traditional sport in that a substantial chain links the two wrestlers together. A combatant who finds himself in a position to use the chain as a weapon is permitted to do so. As to the relevant legal principles, the Court of Appeal has ruled that it is not in the public interest that people should try to cause each other actual bodily harm for no reason. Further, it is not a defence to a charge of assault arising out of a fight, whether occurring in public or in private, that the victim consented to fight. It is an assault if actual bodily harm is intended and/or caused. But the Court of Appeal emphasised that its ruling was not intended to cast doubt on the accepted legality of properly conducted games and sports.

It is likely that the courts would regard the introduction of a chain as a potential weapon as distinguishing such a competition from lawful sport. Any injuries which might be occasioned by its use would thus be distinguished from those which do sometimes occur in the normal course of robust but lawful sporting competitions. Their infliction might constitute assault or a more serious offence of unlawful wounding or grievous bodily harm depending upon the nature and degree of the injury.

In the case considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions the evidence was insufficient to establish that actual harm had been occasioned by the use of the chain.