HC Deb 10 July 1876 vol 230 cc1172-3

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, What steps Her Majesty's Government have taken or are taking to obtain from the Government of the King of Italy repayment of the expenses incurred by Mr. William Mercer at his trial in 1873 on certain false charges by the police of Castellamare, and payment of compensation for ill-treatment received at the hands of the police, for which Her Majesty's Minister in Italy, in August, 1873, was instructed by Earl Granville, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to prefer a claim?


The proceedings, Sir, in regard to Mr. William Mercer occurred in the Italian Courts in 1873, and resulted in Mr. Mercer's acquittal. Sir Augustus Paget, then Her Majesty's Minister at Rome, was instructed by Her Majesty's Government to represent the whole of the facts to the Italian Government, and to express an opinion that the Government ought to consider the equity of the claim Mr. Mercer had against them for the sufferings he had endured. To this representation of Her Majesty's Government the Italian Government positively refused to listen in the way in which Her Majesty's Government expected them to do. Under these circumstances the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown was taken, and another representation was made to the Italian Government, who represented that they had already tried the police of Castellamare, who had caused the sufferings of Mr. Mercer, and that they had been punished. They added that if Mr. Mercer considered he had been ill-used the Courts of Law in Italy were open to him, and that his case would receive exactly the same consideration from a tribunal as if he was an Italian subject. Mr. Mercer had not, in the exercise of his discretion, chosen to appeal to an Italian Court, and, under the circumstances, Her Majesty's Government thought they could not interfere further on his behalf.