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What is the punishment for treason? Penalty under UK law and the Treason Act explained

What is the punishment for treason? Penalty under UK law and the Treason Act explained

Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, pleaded guilty to three charges on Friday at the Old Bailey on London, relating to an incident that took place on Christmas Day in 2021

A man has pleaded guilty to a charge under the Treason Act after being caught in the grounds of Windsor Castle with a loaded crossbow and admitting intent to harm the Queen.

Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, pleaded guilty to three charges on Friday at the Old Bailey on London, relating to an incident that took place on Christmas Day in 2021.

The most serious charge under section two of the Treason Act said that “on 25 December 2021 at Windsor Castle, near to the person of the Queen, you did wilfully produce or have a loaded crossbow with intent to use the same to injure the person of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, or to alarm her Majesty”.

He was also charged with making a threat to kill the Queen and having an offensive weapon in a public place.

Chail is the first person in the UK to be convicted of treason since 1981.
What is the definition of treason?

The 1842 Treason Act makes it an offence to assault the Queen, or have a firearm or offensive weapon in her presence with intent to injure or alarm her, or to cause a breach of peace.

The act was passed early in the reign of Queen Victoria after a number of assassination attempts against her. Under the previous 1351 Treason Act, all assaults against the monarch were punishable by death.

One of the attacks on Victoria, by a man named John William Bean in 1842, used a pistol loaded only with paper and tobacco. This prompted Prince Albert, Victoria’s husband, to encourage Parliament to pass a law recognising lesser crimes against the monarch, such as intent to alarm. Bean was sentenced to 18 months in jail under the new act.
What is the punishment for treason?

Today, a person convicted under the Treason Act is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.

When section two of the act was originally established an attempt to assault or alarm the monarch was made punishable by flogging and up to seven years’ imprisonment. No one who violated the act was ever flogged.

Marcus Sarjeant was the last person convicted under the 1842 Treason Act in 1981. He was jailed for five years after firing blank shots at the Queen while she was riding down The Mall in London during the Trooping the Colour parade.

The last person to be convicted under the separate and more serious 1351 Treason Act was William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw-Haw, who collaborated with Germany during the Second World War.
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