HC Deb 14 June 1825 vol 13 cc1138-49
Mr.Denman ,

in presenting a petition from a person named Martin Can for, thought it incumbent upon him to call the attention of the House to the contents of that petition, which appeared to him to contain matter, and to involve consequences of the utmost importance. In consequence of some mistake, the notice he had given upon the subject had been construed into a notice relating to the body of the magistracy in Surrey; but the petition was only against one individual magistrate, who was also one of the judges of the Principality of Wales, and whose name was Kenrick. He felt it incumbent upon him, to call the serious attention of the House to the whole conduct of that individual, with reference to certain transactions of a nature which made it necessary that the Crown should be informed of the manner in which he had dishonoured his magisterial functions. He was quite aware of the difficulty of the subject; for, since the Judges had held their appointments upon the condition of their good behaviour, no motion of this sort, had come before the House. This might be ascribed to the circumstance, that no judge had placed himself by impropriety of conduct in such a situation that parliament could interfere; or, it might arise from an unwillingness to bring forward charges against persons exercising such high and important functions. No honour was likely to be gained by any member, in bringing forward charges of such a serious nature. It would have been by far more satisfactory to him, and certainly more decorous to the public, if this business had been taken up by his majesty's ministers, who had, or were supposed to have, a more than ordinary solicitude for the characters of those who administered the laws. The subject divided itself into two parts. The first related to the facts disclosed in the petition; and the second would involve a variety of facts disclosed in affidavits brought before the court of King's-bench, in last Hilary term. The statement which he held in his hand, appeared to afford sufficient proof, that Mr. Kenrick had conducted himself, in the exercise of his duty as a magistrate, in a manner so highly objectionable, as to render him a very unfit person to hold any judicial or magisterial office. It fixed upon him the guilt of partiality, violence, and malignity, exhibited in his imprisoning an individual who was in some degree under his protection. Mr. Kenrick was bound by every sense of duty as a magistrate to protect the individual from that oppression from others, which he practised against him himself. The whole of these filets were stated in an affidavit produced in the court of King's-bench. But this was not the only part of Mr. Kenrick's conduct that was open to the most serious animadversion. There was another case, in which Mr. Kenrick was not acting as a judge, but as an individual prosecuting a poor neighbour. This case had excited the strongest sensation, and much anxiety had been evinced as to what the conduct of government would be upon the occasion. In that case, he could undoubtedly prove, by Mr. Kenrick's own affidavits, that he had conducted himself in a manner which rendered him totally unfit to occupy the offices which he continued to hold. He should propose that the petition should be printed; that the affidavits produced in the court of King's-bench should be moved for, and afterwards printed; that the whole of these papers should be put into the hands of the members, and then inquiries might be pursued, and proceedings adopted relative to the individual concerned, in the first case, and finally, relative to the pure administration of justice.

Mr. Denison

said, he had the honour to represent the county of which Mr. Kenrick was a magistrate, and he was also a neighbour of that gentleman. He was therefore acquainted with his private and public character, and he could bear testimony to the propriety of his conduct in private life. Mr. Kenrick had personally communicated to him his most earnest wish, that his conduct should undergo the strictest examination; that the affidavits should be printed; and that the whole business should be brought forward. But it certainly was the wish of Mr. Kenrick that the affidavits should not be printed before the matter was in a course of investigation.

Mr. Secretary Peel

complained, that the learned member had not given any notice of the probability of his calling upon the House to exercise their functions of addressing the Crown for the removal of a judge. The course adopted by the learned gentleman was perfectly correct—to bring up the petition, and not to notice it until all parties should have had an opportunity of examining it. He was far from wishing to throw any obstruction in the way of fair investigation; and he only complained that the learned member had not given sufficient notice of his intention to move for the affidavits. The first question in his mind was, whether the affidavits would contain a correct, impartial, and entire statement of the case? His other objection was, the advanced state of the session. If there were no probability of prosecuting the subject in the present session, he put it to the House, whether it was quite fair to present charges against an individual six months before the case could be investigated?

Mr. Denman

thought, that the present session would afford sufficient time for all the necessary proceedings upon this case. He did not maintain that the affidavits were sufficient; he only moved for them as documents that ought to be attended to by the House. Their production would not put Mr. Kenrick in a worse situation than that in which he had for some time stood; for the substance of those affidavits had appeared in all the newspapers, and they had been discussed fully in the court of King's-bench.

The Attorney-General

denied, that the merits of this case could be ascertained by any thing that had passed in the court of King's-bench. The defence of Mr. Kenrick had never been heard; his counsel had not been allowed to address the court in his favour en account of the case going off entirely upon a point of form. The counsel were heard in opposition to Mr. Kenrick. One of them alluded to an affidavit, by. which it appeared that Mr. Kenrick, in reference to an article in "The Morning Chronicle," had made an objectionable statement in the Stamford newspaper. Upon this the court interposed, and would not interfere with reference to the publisher of "The Morning Chronicle." Mr. Kenrick's rule was discharged, but the opposite party did not obtain the costs. The court had passed no opinion upon the subject of Mr. Kenrick's conduct to Franks, nor ought any member to pass his judgment, until an opportunity had been afforded of investigating every part of the case. With respect to the case contained in the petition, the trial never did take place. The plaintiff's counsel had agreed to a compromise; and the House might judge of the serious nature of the charge, when they were informed that the terms of the compromise were, that Mr. Kenrick should pay the sum of five pounds, with the costs, as between attorney and client.

Mr. Scarlett

thought it would be an act of great injustice to Mr. Kenrick to have the affidavits printed, unless the House were to enter immediately upon an investigation of the case. Mr. Kenrick, by the rules of the court, had had no opportunity of replying to these affidavits, nor could he now reply to them if they were to be printed by the House. If the affidavits were true, Mr. Kenrick was certainly a very improper person to hold the office he did hold; but they might not contain all the truth, and even the truth they did contain might be palliated by circumstances.

Mr. Secretary Peel

expressed a hope, that the learned member would not press for the production of the affidavits; but that he would bring the measure forward in the shape of a specific charge.

Mr. Denman

said, he was anxious to give the learned gentleman the fullest opportunity of defending himself. The papers he sought to bring forward were not the affidavits on the other side, but the documents produced by Mr. Kenrick, and upon which the court of King's-bench refused to make absolute the rule for a criminal information against "The Morning Chronicle." He took the case as it appeared in the affidavits. If the allegations therein contained were true, then Mr. Kenrick was unfit to hold a judicial situation; if they were false, then the most effectual way of contradicting them was by an inquiry, such as that which he now proposed.

Mr. Wynn

pointed out the expediency of following the course pursued in the case of Mr. Baron Page, against whom charges had been preferred, and who was allowed to be heard at the bar. If the charges against Mr. Kenrick were to be made upon oath, he would have no opportunity of denying them with the same solemnity, unless the matter went to a committee, in the same way that the charges against the chief baron of Ireland did.

Sir M. W. Ridley

said, it would be showing great kindness to the individual in question, to proceed with all possible despatch, as he was most anxious to have the imputations cast upon him removed as quickly as possible. Indeed, that gentleman felt that he could not, with propriety, proceed to the exercise of his functions as a judge, until those charges were satisfactorily cleared up.

Mr. Secretary Canning

thought, that after the appeal of the hon. baronet, the case ought to he investigated as speedily as possible. But the difficulty was this—the learned member proposed to the House to receive, not the substance of the case, but the sworn affidavits presented against Mr. Kenrick in the court of King's-bench. Now, if this were done, he knew of no course which would enable the accused party to oppose to those statements a negative of equal authority or solemnity. As the only negative—the House not having the power to examine upon oath— would be a mere verbal one. The affidavits sought for contained a great deal of irrelevant matter, and did not exactly apply to the case. Under such circumstances, he put it to the learned member, whether it would not be better to shape his case according to the recommendation of his right hon. friend.

The petition was then brought up and read. It purported to be the petition of Martin Money Canfor, formerly of Charlwood, Surrey, farmer, but now of Church-street, Stoke Newington, Middlesex, butcher, and setting forth,

"That in May 1821, the Petitioner lost several sheep from their feeding on Charlwood Common; that the petitioner immediately commenced an active search and inquiry for many miles round the neighbourhood of his residence, and ultimately discovered that one of such sheep was in the possession of a person of the name of William Beale, residing near Betchworth: that the petitioner thereupon proceeded to the place of the said W. Beale's residence, and instantly recognized his said sheep, although it was in a fold with others, and had been shorn of its fleece, and he thereupon claimed it of the said W. Beale as his property, and required the production of the fleece, which the said W. Beale admitted he had himself taken off, but the said W. Beale refused either to show the fleece to the petitioner or to give up the possession of the said sheep; that the petitioner, therefore, determined to exhibit a charge of felony against the said W. Beale, but being a stranger in the neighbourhood he inquired for the residence of the nearest magistrate, and was directed to William Kenrick, esq. of Betchworth aforesaid; that the petitioner immediately proceeded to the House of the said W. Kenrick, and saw one George Adams, his butler, who, ascertaining that the petitioner had a charge of felony to prefer, refused to introduce him to the said W. Kenrick until he had communicated all the particulars of such charge, which the petitioner was therefore compelled to detail to the said G. Adams; that upon the petitioner's introduction to the said W. Kenrick, he repeated the circumstances of his charge against the said W. Beale, and requested the said W. Kenrick would grant him a search warrant, in order to enable him to secure the fleece of his said sheep, expressing his apprehension that the said W. Beale would otherwise destroy or conceal it, in order to prevent satisfactory proof of the petitioner's property; that the said W. Kenrick thereupon began to write something on a slip of paper, and the said G. Adams having offered him the form of a search warrant; the said W. Kenrick observed, the note I am writing to Beale will do as well;' but the petitioner, humbly representing to him that he was apprehensive that a note would be of little use, as the said W. Beale had already refused to produce the fleece, and that he therefore was anxious to have a search warrant, the said W. Kenrick became much enraged, expressed his determination not to proceed on the complaint, and ordered the petitioner to quit his House; that the petitioner finding that he had no chance of obtaining a search warrant from the said W. Kenrick, and being desirous at all events to secure his property, he submissively requested the said W. Kenrick to finish the note which he had originally proposed to send to the said. W. Beale; that the said W. Kenrick accordingly wrote such note, and delivered it to the petitioner unfolded, and which note is in the words following:—'These are to request you will deliver to the bearer the fleece of a sheep admitted to have been taken by you from Westwood, in order that it may be produced as evidence before me on a charge of felony, or bring it with you to my house, and show cause why you should not do so.—W. KENRICK. That after the said W. Kenrick had written such note, he required of the said G. Adams, the Christian name of Beale, the person accused, who answered William, ours is named James' (as the petitioner understood), and the petitioner has since discovered, that the word ours,' referred to a brother of the said W. Beale, who is in the service of the said W. Kenrick as his bailiff; that the said W. Kenrick desired the petitioner to deliver the said note to the said W. Beale in the presence of a constable, but immediately afterwards observed, you may deliver it yourself, a constable is unnecessary;' that the petitioner accordingly carried the said note to the said W. Beale, who refused to receive it, whereupon the petitioner, in the presence of several persons, read the same to him, but the said W. Beale treated it with indifference, and stated that he would not give up the sheep or produce the fleece; that, the petitioner discovering that the said note was so utterly ineffectual, and being apprehensive of making another application to the said W. Kenrick for a search warrant, he went before Imp Burgess, esq. a justice of the peace residing at Reigate, who declined to interfere in a charge which had beet before another magistrate, and recommended the petitioner to call again upon the said W. Kenrick on the subject; that the petitioner, in consequence of such advice, returned to the said W. Kenrick, on whose grounds, near his house, the petitioner found the accused person, the said W. Beale; that the petitioner was interrogated by the said G. Adams as to the object of his visit; and having informed him of the said W. Beale's disregard of the said note, and of the petitioner's desire, in consequence, to prefer his charge against him, the said G. Adams informed the petitioner that the said W. Kenrick would have nothing further to do in the business, and that he refused to see the petitioner again; that the petitioner expressed his regret that, after the trouble he had taken, and the expense he had incurred, he should be deprived of redress, provided as he was with clear evidence to prove the unlawful taking of his property by the said W. Beale; whereupon the said G. Adams observed to the petitioner, that the said W. Beale had stated, that the petitioner had agreed to refer the question of property in the said sheep to a Mr. Cutler, which the petitioner instantly denied, and thereupon the said G. Adams requested the petitioner to call the said W. Beale, who did not repeat such statement, but pressed the petitioner to refer the matter to Mr. Joseph Nash, who is the land-agent of said W. Kenrick, and resides it his neighbourhood; that the petitioner, despairing of further assistance from the said W. Kenrick in the investigation of his charge against the said W. Beale, and apprehending from the refusal of Mr. Burgess, that no other magistrate would interfere, and that he was in danger not only of losing his property, but of incurring the imputation of preferring a groundless accusation, he was induced to abandon his charge of felony, and to consent to accompany the said W. Beale to the house of the said J. Nash; that the said W. Beale having produced to the said J. Nash, and a Mr. James Ede, the fleece of the said sheep, and the petitioner having shown them the fleece of another sheep of the petitioner's with a corresponding mark, they instantly decided that the fleece in the possession of the said W. Beale was the property of the petitioner, and they ordered the said W. Beale to give up the same, together with the said sheep, which he accordingly did, and the said J. Nash and J. Ede gave to the petitioner two notes or certificates of their judgment on the subject; that the petitioner, having thus obtained his property, and being in the neighbourhood of the said W. Kenrick's residence, he considered it right to wait upon him, in order to inform him of the result of the investigation, and the petitioner took with him the fleece which had been so restored, and the two notes or certificates before-mentioned; that the petitioner, upon his arrival at the said W. Kenrick's house, was shown into a room in which the said W. Kenrick and the said G. Adams were; that the said W. Kenrick desired the said G. Adams to shut the door, and immediately desired the petitioner, in a peremptory manner, to deliver up the note which the said W. Kenrick had written to the said W. Beale, and whilst the petitioner was in the act of producing it, he again, in a very loud tone, commanded him to produce it directly; that the petitioner, not attaching much importance to the said note, had no intention of withholding it from the said W. Kenrick, but being surprised at the shutting of the door, and at the agitated manner of the said W. Kenrick, he requested to be permitted to take a copy of such note; whereupon the said W. Kenrick became more violent, and addressing himself to the said G. Adams, said, 'I appoint you a special constable; search that man for the note;' that the petitioner resisted the attempt of the said G. Adams to search him, as he was clothed with no proper authority for that purpose; and the said W. Kenrick therefore directed that one John Batchelor the constable of the parish, should be sent for; and the petitioner was confined in the said room until the arrival of the said constable, for the space of nearly an hour; that when the said J. Batchelor entered the room, the said W. Kenrick pointing to the petitioner, said, 'There constable, is your prisoner;' and as the said John Batchelor hesitated, apparently waiting for the particulars of the charge, the said W. Kenrick, addressing him in a tone of great anger, said, constable, do your duty; seize him, and search him for a note;' that the petitioner having ascertained that the said John Batchelor was really a constable, he submitted without the slightest resistance; and the said John Batchelor, having collared the petitioner, searched him, and took from him the said note, and also, by the direction of the said W. Kenrick, took possession of the said fleece; and the said W. Kenrick then ordered the petitioner to quit his house, which the petitioner left immediately, under the apprehension of further violence; that for this imprisonment the petitioner brought his action against the said W. Kenrick, and the cause stood for trial at the last assizes for Surrey; that the petitioner might reasonably have expected considerable damages for the injury he had sustained; but, being actuated by no vindictive motive, and being solely anxious for some acknowledgment, on the part of the said W. Kenrick, of the impropriety of his conduct, at the request of the counsel of the said W. Kenrick, the petitioner consented to accept a verdict for five pounds, upon the express understanding and condition that the petitioner was to be at no expense in the matter or the cause; that the costs of the said action have been taxed and paid, but the petitioner has sustained a considerable loss in tracing and obtaining possession of his property, for which he has not received the smallest satisfaction or indemnity; that the petitioner disclaims all personal hostility to the said W. Kenrick, which he submits, has been sufficiently indicated in his desire, by the compromise of the said action, to prevent a detail of the foregoing facts, where the interests of the petitioner were alone concerned, but inasmuch as the petitioner feels, that there was a denial of justice on the part of the said W. Kenrick, in the case of the said W. Beale, by which a charge of felony was suppressed and defeated, the petitioner is led by a sense of public duty to state the circumstances for the consideration of the House, offering at the same time to verify all that he has alleged, in such manner as may be considered expedient and necessary; that the petitioner is induced to consider an investigation of this case more peculiarly important, from the circumstance of the said W. Kenrick being one of his majesty's justices of the great sessions in Wales; the petitioner does not presume to suggest the course to be adopted in the event of the establishment of his charges against the said W. Kenrick, but submits in all things to the discre- tion, authority, and wisdom of the House; the petitioner, therefore, most humbly prays, that the House will be pleased to institute an inquiry into the truth of his statement, and that they will adopt such proceedings thereupon as to them may seem meet."

Mr. Denman

said, he wished to explain to the House the disadvantageous situation in which he was placed. If he had not founded his motion upon affidavits, he would then have been told, that he rested his case upon hearsay, and unfounded report. But now that he took a different course, he was told that the grounds upon which he went were too grave and solemn to be met by the simple denial of Mr. Kenrick. All he wanted was the production of the affidavits of Mr. Kenrick, upon which the court of King's bench refused to make absolute the rule for a criminal information against "The Morning Chronicle."

Mr. Baring

said, that the sort of objections urged on the other side would almost lead to the suspicion (undoubtedly unfounded) that it was the desire of ministers to screen the individual against whom the charge was made. They incurred a heavy responsibility in the course they now pursued, and he thought merited reprehension for not themselves bringing the case before the House. It ought not to have been left to his learned friend, from a sense of public duty, to submit a motion upon it. The first information he (Mr. B.) had obtained of the case was from the speech of the Attorney-general in the newspapers; and after that speech, censuring as it did the conduct of a judge of the land, it seemed strange that he should be allowed still to preside without inquiry, in some shape or other, into his case. Had the power, as formerly, remained with the Crown, it would have been unquestionably the duty of ministers to have investigated the subject; but, though the power was now vested in parliament, ministers ought not to have waited until a volunteer on the opposition side of the House called its attention to the misconduct of the judge. Yet that judge had been allowed to go his circuit in Wales as usual, even after the speech of the Attorney-general. [The Attorney-general said, across the table, that he had not made that speech in his official capacity.] He was aware of that circumstance, but the charge was aggravated, and it was pressed by the Attorney- general with a degree of earnestness, and apparent sincerity, which ought to have induced government to institute a solemn inquiry. In what state did the question at present stand? The whole subject was to remain over until next year, because it was late in the session. The right hon. gentleman had expressed his hope, that, in the mean time, the House would suspend its judgment; but, would the individual against whom the charge was made, in the meantime suspend his judgment? No; he was to be permitted to go his circuits, and to dispense justice, as a judge of the land, as usual, with very grave accusation hanging over his head. Suppose the charge had, by possibility, related to any of the judges of England, such a state of things would not have been endured; and he saw no reason why Wales should not be treated as England, merely because it was a little further off. Next, as to the partiality of the proceeding: his learned friend was willing to rest the whole case on the testimony Mr. Kenrick had given for himself. If so, there was an end of all supposed injustice, and want of equality and reciprocity on the ground of evidence. It seemed to him, therefore, that the House might form a fair decision on the question without delaying it until another session.

Mr. Denman

then moved for a copy of the affidavits filed by Mr. Kenrick in support of a rule for a criminal information against William Innell Clement, and the affidavit of Mr. James, filed to prove Mr. Kenrick the author of a letter printed in the "Stamford News"; which was agreed to.