HC Deb 20 June 1809 vol 14 cc1159-60
Mr. W. Smith

presented a Petition from Becher Westropp Atkins, late Barrack Master in Sandown bay division, Isle of Wight; setting forth, "That the Petitioner served his majesty as lieutenant in the 27th regiment of infantry in the West Indies, during the years 1797 and 1798, under the command of the late general sir Ralph Abercombie, who conferred upon him an ensigncy in that regiment; and he was afterwards appointed a barrack master in the Isle of Wight,; and that, in the execution of his various duties in that capacity, the petitioner was struck with the existence of certain abuses, by means of which great sums of the public money were improvidently expended; and in December 1805 he submitted to the then Secretary at War a plan evidently calculated to effect great savings to the barrack department, and that, owing to the suggestions, of the petitioner, very great retrenchments took place in the barrack department; and, amongst other circumstances, the vent of the temporary barracks hired upon the part of government were reduced nearly one half, and others given up as useless; and that at the time the petitioner was induced to point out the-above-mentioned abuses to the Secretary at War he stated the disagreeable predicament in which such a proceeding would inevitably place him if he was suffered to remain under the immediate controul of those who were implicated in the transactions he complained of, and upon this ground he solicited a removal from the Isle of Wight to a similar appointment then vacant at Deal, but such solicitation was not attended to, end he was left singly to contend against an host of enemies, whose frauds he had been the means of detecting, and after suffering various mortifications he was turned out of his situation, having a numerous family to support, without even having been acquainted with any accusation alledged against him; and that the petitioner was informed at length through anc- ther channel, that the cause of his dismissal was an affidavit produced against him by a proprietor of one of the barns then hired, by government as a temporary barrack, and about to be given up, at the petitioner's recommendation, on account of an exorbitant rent paid for it; and the petitioner being denied the advantage of a fair trial, he instantly adopted the only means ill his power of rebutting such affidavit, namely, by a counter affidavit; and the petitioner conceives that, if an inference is to be drawn out of these affidavits, printed by order of the last parliament, his character will stand acquitted, inasmuch as those in his favour are the joint depositions of three persons, and state a connected chain of circumstances, whereas the one exhibited against him is the assertion of an individual, avowedly his enemy, and an interested person; and that the petitioner humbly requests a fair and open investigation, whereon he undertakes not only to manifest his own innocence, but to substantiate charges of a most criminal nature against one or more persons who are now unworthily filling situations of public trust; and that by reference to the Fourth Report of the Commissioners of Military Enquiry, it will appear great rents are paid for buildings or barns, and regarding which there is contradictory evidence; and that the petitioner offered to substantiate the above charges upon oath before the commissioners of military enquiry, but as that tribunal would not accede to the proposal of the petitioner, to allow him to be present at examination of witnesses, or permit counsel on his behalf, or allow him to call on such evidence as the petitioner requested, and which he conceived necessary, he was deprived of all reasonable expectation or hope of redress, and consequently he was induced to decline the further prosecution of the charges; and praying that the House will take his unfortunate case into consideration, and afford him such relief as the justice thereof shall be thought to require."

The Petition was read and ordered to lie upon the table.