HC Deb 31 July 1871 vol 208 cc559-60

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the case of W. E. Pook, lately tried on a charge of murder and acquitted, Whether the observations reported to have been made by the Lord Chief Justice as to the conduct of certain police officers have received his attention; what, if any, steps will be taken to protect the public and individuals against the recurrence of such conduct; whether any investigation of the conduct of said officers will take place; and, if so, whether they will continue in the discharge of their duties until the same shall have taken place?


, in reply, said, he had read the transcript of the shorthand notes of the remarks made by the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in reference to the conduct of certain police officers in the case of W. E. Pook, recently tried on a charge of murder and acquitted. On the present occasion it was of course impossible for him to enter minutely into the circumstances connected with that trial; but it appeared to him that many of the most important charges brought against the police were charges which, if made at all, ought to be directed against the legal and official Advisers of the Crown, although he expressed no opinion whether they would be sustained or not. When his hon. Friend last put on the Paper Notice of a Question in reference to this subject, he spoke of the suppression of evidence. Particular attention had been given to the suppression of all the circumstances connected with the discovery of a certain locket and a blood-stained duster, which was found near the scene of the murder. These circumstances were suppressed, however, not by the action of the police, but in accordance with the directions of those who advised the Crown, and who, being of opinion that those articles were not in any way connected with the crime, deemed it was not their duty to make them part of the evidence to be adduced on the trial. With respect to other very grave charges against the police, he had also made very careful inquiries; but he found that on every occasion when the Lord Chief Justice reprehended the conduct of the police as far as the exercise of their judgment went, he acquitted them entirely of anything like mala fides in the matter. Both of the officers referred to had been long employed in the public service. Inspector Mulvany was appointed nine years ago a member of the Detective Department, and as a detective he had been engaged in many important investigations and had repeatedly received the thanks of various public bodies. Indeed, this was, he believed, the first occasion on which that officer had incurred any censure. The Chief Commissioner of Police was of opinion that neither of these officers had done anything to justify him in dismissing them from the force. The best security to the public and to individuals against the recurrence of such mistakes as were from time to time committed by the police consisted in the publicity with which criminal trials were conducted. Every policeman intrusted with the conduct of an inquiry knew that his evidence would be submitted to the rigorous cross-examination of counsel, and subjected to the observations of the Judge, and also, in cases of great public interest, to the severe criticisms of the Press.