HC Deb 24 June 1857 vol 146 cc323-4

, the Chairman of the Select Committee appointed on Friday last to consider the allegations contained in the petition of Mr. John Newal, touching an attempt to corrupt a witness summoned to give evidence before the Rochdale Election Committee, brought up the Report of the Committee, and as the hon. Gentleman laid it on the table there were cries of "Read, read!" from both sides of the House.


thereupon read the Report as follows:— The SELECT COMMITTEE appointed to inquire into the Matter of the PETITION of John Newall, and to report their opinion thereupon to the House," and to whom the PETITION of John Newall and the evidence taken at the Bar of the House were referred—have considered the Matters to them referred, and have agreed to the following Report:— That Peter Johnson, mentioned in the Petition of John Newall, was not produced before your Committee; and it appeared that he had not been arrested under the warrant issued against him, although every means had been taken to find him, both at Rochdale and in London. Your Committee find that by the direction of John Newall, the agent for the Petition against the return of Sir Alexander Ramsay, Abraham Rothwell was upon the 12th of May last served with a Speaker's warrant to attend to give evidence before the Rochdale Election Committee. That the fact of Abraham Rothwell being a person likely to be examined as a witness on the hearing of the said Petition became known in Rochdale, and was before the 18th of June inst. known to John Lord. That the aforesaid Peter Johnson, having recently come to London, did, on the morning of Thursday, the 18th inst., personally apply to John Lord for the address of Abraham Rothwell, and from what passed at their interview John Lord became aware that Peter Johnson's object in desiring to communicate with Rothwell was connected with the Rochdale Election, and he requested Lord to tell Rothwell that if Rothwell intended to leave the country he (Johnson) would find him money to the extent of £50. That, accordingly by the agency of John Lord, Peter Johnson and Abraham Rothwell met on the evening of Thursday, the 18th inst., when Peter Johnson, in the presence and hearing of John Lord, offered Abraham Rothwell to provide money for his use to the amount of £50 if he would leave England and go to America. From the circumstances already stated the necessary inference would seem to be that the object of Peter Johnson in so acting as aforesaid was to prevent Abraham Rothwell's being examined on the trial of the Election Petition, and that such purpose of Johnson's was known to John Lord. But the evidence was so inconclusive, and the manner of the witnesses in giving their testimony so unsatisfactory, that the Committee are unable to state this inference as being the clear result of their investigation. Your Committee desire to add that nothing appeared in the evidence before your Committee to connect the sitting Member or his agents with the transactions in question; and, in conclusion, your Committee have to report that they carefully abstain from prosecuting any inquiries into matters not strictly included within the limits of the reference made to them, because of their apprehension that they might trench on the proper duties of the Election Committee, and prejudice the rights of parties not represented before them.

The Report to lie on the table, and to be printed.

The House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.