HC Deb 09 July 1868 vol 193 cc920-1

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether he is willing to produce a Return of a Copy of the censure passed by the Horse Guards upon the members of the Court Martial appointed to try an acting Sergeant Major of the Grenadier Guards, on account of the leniency of the sentence they had passed upon him, such censure having since been virtually abandoned, but without any explanation or justification of the grounds of such censure upon the members of that Court Martial, one of whom is a Member of this House, and to make a Motion. The hon. Member stated that in or about the month of April an acting Sergeant Major of the Grenadier Guards was sent to a Volunteer corps with regard to a quantity of ammunition, on which occasion the Volunteers pressed on him their hospitality, the result of which was the absence of the acting Serjeant Major for six hours and the loss of parade. For this he was tried and sentenced to be reduced to the grade of a simple sergeant, whereby he would lose 10d. a day. The colonel demurred to this finding, on the ground that he could have punished the Accused to that extent himself, and that a Court-martial was obliged to inflict a severer penalty than the commanding officer could himself do. The Court, however, adhered to its decision; upon which the colonel appealed to the Horse Guards; and they referred the point to the Judge Advocate, who ruled that the sentence was perfectly legal. On this the military authorities quashed the sentence, re-sentenced the man to exactly the same penalty, and finally sent for the members of the Court to the Horse Guards, where a censure was read to them, of which they were refused a copy. As the President of the Court (Colonel Sturt) was a Member of Parliament, he (Mr. Darby Griffith) maintained that he had a right to bring the subject before the House, and he submitted that the question was one of no little importance, for it was whether Courts-martial were to be independent tribunals, or whether they were to be subject to dictation. He moved for a copy of the censure.