§ Dr. Bowring
said, he had upon the Paper three questions to which he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Graham). They referred to an illegal arrest and imprisonment which had taken place in the Isle of Man. He understood that the attention of the Lord Chancellor had been called to the matter since he had before mentioned it in the House; and he hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Baronet was prepared to give some explanation of the occurrence. In order that the right hon. Gentleman might be enabled to do so explicitly, he had set forward the questions which he wished to ask in detail on the Paper. They were as follows:—Whether John Walters Coldicot was committed, on or about the 9th day of September last, to Castle Rushen, in the Isle of Man, on a charge of assault, without any examination or hearing before a magistrate? Whether, on complaining of the irregularity and hardship of his commitment to the Lieutenant Governor of the island, the case was referred by the said Lieutenant Governor to the committing magistrate himself? Whether the original committal was not to compel the prisoner to keep the peace for six months, and whether, the six months being passed, he was not and is not now detained in gaol?
§ Sir James Graham
said, in consequence of the former statement of the hon. Member, he had communicated with the Governor of the Isle of Man on the subject. It was necessary that he should preface his answer by remarking that the law of the Isle of Man was local and peculiar, and very dissimilar from the law of this country. It appeared that the person alluded to had been charged before a magistrate, about the early part of September last, with a grievous assault on his wife. According to the law of the island, a warrant was issued for his apprehension, against which it was open to him to appeal. No 1154 appeal, however, had been lodged in the case; and he was accordingly sentenced to find security for six months, himself in 40l. and two sureties in 20l. each. He expressed himself unable to find sureties, and was unwilling to enter into his own recognizances; and having lodged no appeal against the decision made in the case, he was detained in prison. Under these circumstances it appeared that on the 16th of October, he being then in prison for want of entering into security to keep the peace, a detainer for a debt of 14l. was lodged against him. Now, that fact was altogether omitted in the account of the transaction given by the hon. Gentleman, though from that time forward he had been confined on the debtors' side of the prison. In the month of April, the gentleman by whom he had been originally committed for want of security to keep the peace, consented to his liberation, provided he would enter into his own recognizances, without being under the necessity of finding sureties. The prisoner, however, refused to do so. He was bound to suppose that the hon. Gentleman who brought this case before the House was not aware of the character of the individual on whose behalf he asked these questions. He (Sir James Graham) had already told the House that this person had been committed on the present occasion on account of a most violent and brutal assault on his wife; but it appeared that this was not the first time that he had been guilty of a grave crime. He had been on a former occasion actually convicted and imprisoned for two years, on account, of an assault with intent to commit a rape on his own daughter.
§ Dr. Bowring
wished to ask, in addition, whether the right hon. Baronet would not consent that the state of the law, which permitted the irregularity of a person being committed to prison without inquiry, should be altered?
§ Sir James Graham
I am not aware that any breach of the law, or any irregularity, has been committed on this occasion.