HC Deb 31 March 1876 vol 228 cc964-6

asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether his attention has been called to the case of "Kimberley v. Crossley," which was tried last week at the Abingdon County Court before Mr. W. H. Cooke and a special jury, the facts of which are stated in the "Hour" newspaper of the 25th March, as follows:— The plaintiff was an agricultural labourer. The defendant, a baronet, who was riding over the lands of the plaintiff's employer. The plaintiff seized the bridle of the trespasser's horse and demanded his name. He was thereupon beaten by Sir Charles Crossley, first with his whip, and then with his stirrup irons, by which he was so injured as to be unable to work for a long time. A special jury awarded him £25 damages, but the Judge refused to give him costs; and, whether this was a constitutional exercise of judicial discretion in reference to costs?


, in reply, said, that since the hon. and learned Gentleman gave Notice of the Question, his attention had been called to the case, and to the report of it in The Hour newspaper. It would, he thought, be found on investigation that the report did not contain a very full or accurate statement of the facts. It appeared that the defendant, a young man under 21 years of age, and the son of the late Sir Francis Crossley, M.P., was no doubt guilty of violence, and perhaps of excessive violence; but, at the same time, he had been treated with great violence by the plaintiff and a man who accompanied him at the time the occurrence took place. Therefore, he thought the Judge might well doubt whether the finding of the jury was altogether satisfactory, and take into consideration the propriety, as he did, of granting a new trial. As to the costs, he understood that the statement in the newspaper was inaccurate. The learned Judge did not withhold the costs from the plaintiff, but reserved the question of costs till the next Court. As to the concluding portion of the Question, he trusted the hon. and learned Gentleman would not think him guilty of want of courtesy, if he said he did not think he ought to reply to that part of it under the circumstances. In the first place, it was not his duty, because he was one of the Law Officers of the Crown, to subject to criticism the decisions of competent Judges in the administration of justice—gentlemen over whom he had no jurisdiction. It would be most unjust to subject to criticism the conduct of a Judge, especially when he had reason to believe that the Judge had not taken the course which he was supposed to have taken.


gave Notice that on that day week he should call attention to the full facts of the case and move a Resolution.