HC Deb 19 May 1871 vol 206 cc1098-100

rose to call attention to the case of the prosecution, at the instance of the Procurator Fiscal for the county of Argyll, against Sir John Orde, for assault on a boy of four years old, tried before the sheriff at Inverary, on the 21st April last. The hon. and learned Member said, that if the Answer of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate, in reply to a Question on this subject put to him on the 1st instant by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren), had been of a more satisfactory character, he should not now have brought this subject forward. The occurrence took place in November, and the complaint was not dealt with until February, and the facts proved had never been denied. From them it appeared that Sir John Orde had been driving a tandem through a village in Argyllshire, and being, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate had stated, under the impression that the child had frightened the horse, struck him with the thong of his whip. The case, moreover, had been fully proved by the groom in attendance on Sir John Orde. The lash went three times round the child's neck, and he was dragged in that manner for seven yards along the road; and after the child was released, Sir John never stopped to inquire whether the child was hurt or not. The father lodged a complaint, but nothing was done until three months afterwards. At the trial the constable who had taken the charge was not produced, nor was the superintendent; but it was a curious fact that Sir John was at the time chairman of the police committee. He never expressed any regret at what had occurred; but offered 5s. as a compensation to the father, who, it was asserted, had attempted to extort money from Sir John, but no proof of that statement had been given. It had been stated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the child was out playing the next day; but it was in evidence that he was in bed the whole of that day, and that he had received considerable injury. The case had created considerable sensation in the district, and the sheriff, in giving his decision, intimated that the case had been got up from malicious motives, that the child had deserved what it had got for running after the carriage, and that the charge was not proved. The decision arrived at was contrary to the evidence, contrary to law, contrary to justice, and a disgrace to the Judge who pronounced it; for the facts were that there was not a particle of evidence proving malice, and as to running after the carriage the child was innocently enough playing by the roadside. The case, instead of being sent for hearing to the sheriff-substitute's deputy, ought to have been sent to the principal sheriff of the county, or to the Assizes, which sat three days after this trial. The matter needed further investigation, for there was a strong feeling existing upon it in Argyllshire, and it was necessary to satisfy the people that justice would be administered equally among all classes.


said, the character of Sir John Orde was held in high esteem in the neighbourhood where he resided.


said, he had little to add to the statement he had made on the same subject in answer to the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren). The right hon. and learned Lord having read the affidavit of the boy's father, in support of his statement on May 1, said it was with reluctance, under the circumstances of the case, that he had ordered the prosecution. The idea of there being a miscarriage of justice in this matter of such magnitude as to deserve that the attention of the House of Commons should be called to it, astonished him; and he did not think a stronger proof could be given of the satisfactory administration of justice in Scotland than that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ayr should have thought this was a case worthy to be brought a second time under the notice of the House.


said, he must support the view taken by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Ayr Burghs.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till Monday next.

House adjourned at half after One o'clock, till Monday next.