HC Deb 01 May 1873 vol 215 cc1294-5

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Tichborne Case, Whether he is prepared to afford the Defendant such aid in bringing up witnesses in his defence as he would have been legally entitled to receive if he had been committed for trial after an examination before a magistrate instead of by the summary jurisdiction of the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; and, if not now prepared to do so, whether, having regard to the fact that Petitions praying that such aid may be afforded, signed by about 100,000 persons, have been already presented to and read at the Table of this House, he will be good enough to point out what further evidence, if any, will be sufficient to satisfy him that unless such aid is afforded, there may be, in the opinion of a large portion of the public, a failure of justice in the pending trial?


in reply, said, that under the Act passed by the Recorder of London (Mr. Russell Gurney) persons charged with an indictable offence have the power of calling upon the committing magistrate to receive the evidence of witnesses called on their behalf, and the magistrate was required to bind over under recognizances to appear at the trial such witnesses as in his opinion give evidence in any way material to the case. When the trial took place the Court had power under the 5th section of the Act to order the costs of such witnesses as it thought proper to be paid; so that it was undoubtedly the fact that, if the defendant in this case had been committed in the ordinary way by a magistrate, the witnesses so bound over to appear, but not other witnesses, might, at the discretion of the Court, have been paid their expenses. But such a case as that now under consideration had not been provided for by the Recorder's Act. It arose under the Act 14 & 15 Vict. which enabled a Judge who thought that a witness in a case tried before him had committed wilful and corrupt perjury to order him to be prosecuted, and to grant a certificate, on the production of which the costs for the prosecution might be paid; but the Act made no provision for the costs of the defence. This was the legal aspect of the case. As to the equity of it, the hon. Member's Question having only been printed in the Paper that morning, he had had no opportunity of consulting the Treasury with proper deliberation in regard to it, and he would therefore ask the hon. Member to postpone his Question until Monday.