HC Deb 16 March 1876 vol 228 cc72-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to affidavits from all the relations of Arthur Orton now in England declaring the convict Castro, alias Arthur Orton, alias Sir Roger Doughty Tichborne, baronet, is not Arthur Orton, delivered at the Home Office by Mr. Anthony Wright Biddulph, the cousin of the said convict and a justice of the peace for Sussex, Whether such affidavits have been submitted for the opinion of the judges who tried the case; and, if so, the result thereof; and, whether, assuming those affidavits are not believed, it is the intention of the Government to prosecute the deponents for perjury?


In answer to the Question of the hon. Member, I have to state that it is by no means an uncommon practice for prisoners not to present witnesses at their trial, where they might be subjected to severe cross-examination, and afterwards deluging the Secretary of State with the so-called affidavits and statements made by those persons. The witnesses mentioned in the hon. Member's Question might have been called at the trial, and the fact that they were not called was the subject of severe comment on the part of the Lord Chief Justice. These so-called affidavits are not affidavits in any judicial proceeding pending, nor are they material to issues pending, neither are they statutory declarations. Therefore, I have not thought proper to trouble any of the learned Judges who tried the case with respect to the matter, and it is not the intention of the Government to take any proceedings in relation to it.


In consequence of the reply of the right hon. Gentleman, I beg to give Notice that I shall on a future occasion call attention to the affidavits in question.