HC Deb 19 February 1818 vol 37 cc557-9
Mr. Bennet

said he rose to do what he conceived to be but an act of justice. At the conclusion of the last session he had presented a petition complaining of the conduct of one of the Irish judges, in his observations on a case of murder in a duel. That petition had been delivered to him in the middle of the session, and contained very serious allegations, which were, however, couched in such strong language, that he told the person who gave it to him that he could not present to the House any such petition. Afterwards he had seen the published trial, and the terms of the petition being moderated, he consented to present it. He had since, however, learned, from several persons of high consideration and respectability, that there was no foundation whatever for the charges. He had also had a communication from the learned judge himself, for whom, he begged leave to say, he entertained the highest respect. He was now convinced that the allega- tions of the petition were utterly groundless, and he was happy to be able to make this statement. One of the allegations was, that the person tried was a relative of the judge. As to this, he stated himself, that it was not the fact, at least, that the relationship was scarcely more than that which existed among all the members of society. Another was, that he had thrown difficulties in the way of procuring the writ; so far from this, it appeared he had advanced money out of his pocket for the purpose of procuring it. A third was, that the person indicted was of a powerful family, and that that had been a source of favour. He was authorized to say, that there had been no show whatever to support this. He was rejoiced to be able to make this reparation to the character of that respected individual, the only one in his power. He was anxious it should be as public as possible, since the imputations contained in the petition had received a very extended circulation. Judge Day, the learned judge in question, in the conscious dignity of innocence, had abstained from prosecuting the libeller. But at the suggestion of the lord chancellor, he had instituted a civil action against the author of the slander, thereby giving the party an opportunity of proving, if he were able, the truth of the allegations. He thought it due from him to apologise to the House for having presented the petition in question, and to declare it to be his full belief and conviction, that the statements which it contained were altogether groundless [Hear, hear!].

Mr. Peel

complimented the hon. gentleman on the very proper and liberal manner in which he had conducted himself on this occasion. So far was he from being sorry at the circumstance, that he was extremely happy an opportunity had thus been afforded of furnishing so public a refutation of the calumny in question. Had he been in England at the period in the last session when the petition was presented, his knowledge of the integrity of judge Day would have induced him to beg the House to suspend their opinion on the allegations which it contained. Since that time the learned judge had put him in possession of the most satisfactory evidence on the subject, namely, his private note book, which showed, that so far was he from having conducted himself in the way imputed to him, that he had acted in a manner most consistent with the dignity of the situation that he held, and with his duties both as a judge and as a christian. The learned judge, would, he was sure, be equally satisfied with himself, at the statement made by the hon. gentleman, and the handsome and liberal manner in which it had been made.