HC Deb 15 August 1871 vol 208 cc1648-9

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether it is true, as reported in the public papers, that Mr. C. D O'Danel, a stipendiary magistrate, refused a citizen of Dublin a summons against a police constable for an assault alleged to have been committed on the 6th August in the Phœnix Park, on the grounds that to do so would to a certain extent prejudge future proceedings, and because the matter was likely to be the subject of investigation in Parliament; and, if so, was he, according to law, justified in refusing the summons, and is he the same magistrate who presided, in the police court on the 7th of August, and fined a number of musicians twenty shillings each or fourteen days' imprisonment for an alleged obstruction of the highway on the same day and the same occasion? He wished also to ask the Chief Secretary, Whether he will furnish to the House a Copy of the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown in Ireland, given in the year 1869, in reference to the rights of the Crown and the Subject to the use of the Phœnix Park, Dublin; and, if so, whether he will lay the same upon the Table before Thursday next?


I have, Sir, to state that I have received from the magistrate to whom the hon. and learned Member refers a letter, which I think I had better read to the House. It is as follows:— In reply to a telegram just received, inquiring as to a refusal by me to grant a summons against a policeman for an alleged assault on the 6th instant, I beg to say that on Thursday last I was applied to in this court by a young man on behalf of his brother for a summons against a policeman for an assault. I inquired as to the circumstances. He said the assault was committed on the previous Sunday in the Park. I presume, I said, it is part of the lamentable occurrence which took place there on that day. He replied that it was. Then I would suggest to you, I said, to postpone this application just at present. It seems a very large question, that may involve serious matters of law requiring the fullest investigation; and that it might be inconvenient to deal just then with an isolated case. I believe I added a remark that the whole matter was to be before Parliament that evening. I asked why his brother, the complainant, did not attend in person. He said, because he was too busy, and could not attend. I then told him his brother might renew the application; and for himself distinctly to understand that I did not refuse the summons. I expressed a hope that his brother was not seriously hurt. He said, 'not much,' and then retired. It is quite a mistake to suppose that I refused the summons. I merely exercised the discretion of deferring the granting of it—the more especially until applied for by the party complaining, who was able to attend and make the necessary information. I have also received a telegram from Mr. O'Danel, stating that he was not the magistrate who fined a number of musicians on the 7th of August. With regard to the second Question put by the hon. and learned Member, I have to state that I have made inquiries as to the practice of laying upon the Table the opinions of the Law Officers of the Crown, and as far as I can ascertain such opinions have never been laid upon the Table as Parliamentary Papers. It is true that the opinions of the Law Officers of the Crown with reference to the right of public meeting in Hyde Park became public; but they became so by having been read in whole or in part by the Ministers of the Crown in the course of the debate which was held on the subject. Under these circumstances, I shall not feel justified in making what I conceive to be an entirely new and objectionable precedent by laying as a Parliamentary Paper on the Table of the House the opinions which are now asked for. It is probable, however, that in the course of the debate which is about to occur these opinions may be made use of by Members sitting on this bench, and that they will thus become public in the same manner as those of the Law Officers of the Crown did with reference to the right of meeting in Hyde Park.