HC Deb 03 August 1831 vol 5 cc648-50
Mr. John Wood

presented a Petition from Richard Carlisle, praying the House would institute an inquiry into the circumstances under which the verdict for which he now suffered fine and imprisonment was obtained, and that the House would present an Address to the Crown, praying his Majesty would grant him a pardon, and exonerate him from the fine and imprisonment; and, thirdly, praying the House would make some alteration in the existing Jury laws, so as to prevent Juries from being starved and exhausted into a verdict. The hon. and learned Member stated, that on receiving the petition, he had felt it to be his duty to send it to the Recorder, in order that that functionary might be aware of the charges which the petition contained against him, and he had received a reply from that learned person, that the petition being addressed to the House, and not to him, he would not read it. He had also given the Attorney General notice of his intention to present it, in order that the hon. and learned Member might refute any of the charges in case he saw fit; but, as the hon. and learned Member was not present, he now thought it his duty to defer the presentation no longer. The petition stated, that the trial on which the petitioner was convicted lasted from nine o'clock in the morning till two o'clock in the next morning, during the whole of which time the petitioner was kept at the bar of the Court, without being suffered to take any equivalent refreshment to sustain his spirits during his harassing and tedious trial; that the Recorder and Counsel left the Court in order that they might dine, and, on returning, proceeded again with the trial. That, in consequence of the severe exhaustion of his animal spirits, from fasting so long, the petitioner's defence was much injured, and many circumstances in his favour were omitted, in consequence, to be urged to the Jury. That after he had finished his defence, the Recorder addressed the Jury in accusation of the petitioner; and that after he had concluded, the Jury retired at nine, and returned at eleven, stating, that they had not agreed on their verdict. The Recorder asked if he could assist them, and sent them back. They were recalled in an hour, and stated that they could not agree as to the publication being a libel; they were again sent back, and at the interval of an hour were recalled, and addressed in uncourteous language by the Recorder, who threatened, if they did not shortly agree, to leave the Court, go home, and not receive their verdict till the next day, thus locking them up, fasting, all the remainder of the night. That at half-past one, they returned with no signs of having agreed on the verdict; and after some further observations from the Recorder, they asked for five minutes more, and then found their verdict—Guilty. The Recorder then proceeded to pass sentence, and said, as a reason for the aggravated punishment inflicted on the petitioner, that the verdict was the result of great deliberation on the part of the Jury, and required the exercise of additional severity on his part. He did not make himself answerable for any one of the statements of the petition; he meant to make no comments on those statements; but if the conduct attributed to the Recorder had really taken place, he must say, the case would require some further investi- gation by that House, and some further proceedings would be necessary against that Judge. In passing sentence, he had inflicted a severe punishment on Mr. Carlile, because the verdict was the result of much deliberation; when it was evident, if the statements of the petition were true, that the Jury were starved and bullied into their verdict. He had done his duty in presenting the petition, and he thought it behoved that House and the City of London to institute an inquiry into the circumstances. He moved, that the petition should be brought up.

Mr. Hunt

very much regretted that none of the Aldermen of the City of London were present at a time when a petition was presented which deeply affected the character of a Judge appointed by the Corporation. He could not, at the same time, but reprobate the practice by which judicial guzzling was kept up at the Old Bailey, and which materially interfered, with the ends of justice.

The petition to lie on the Table.

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