HC Deb 18 May 1855 vol 138 cc764-5

said, he begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whether his attention had been called to the trial at the last Tyrone Assizes of two sets of defendants belonging to opposing religious and political parties for mutual assaults on each other at the same time and place, and to the course pursued by the public prosecutor employed by the Crown—namely, that though distinct and cross indictments were preferred by the one party against the other, he put both sets of defendants on trial together on the several indictments, and called the witnesses of the respective parties alternately until the equal number of six had been examined on each side against and for each party, each successive witness plumply centradicting what the preceding witness had sworn, and attributing to the opposite party the violence of which his own side was accused; and to the disapprobation expressed by the Judge at the acquittal of the one set of defendants by the jury, contrary to his expectation; and whether such a mode of conducting a prosecution by the public prosecutor in Ireland met with the approbation of the right hon. Gentleman?


said, he understood the question of the hon. Gentleman to refer rather to the system which was pursued in those trials than to the particular trial to which he had alluded. On that occasion, the circumstances that occurred were pre- cisely in accordance with what had taken place frequently on former trials. It was a common practice in that part of Ireland that two sets of criminals under different indictments, were tried by one jury. The attention of the Government and of his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland had been called to the subject, and he might state that it did not appear to them to be desirable that such a system should be pursued in future. Instructions would accordingly be given to the Crown counsel not to be a party to such proceedings in future.