HC Deb 03 August 1877 vol 236 cc409-10

rose to call attention to the case of Mr. P. Lavery, who, at the Crumlin Petty Sessions, charged certain persons with wilful and corrupt perjury, said to have been committed with reference to a charge of assault which had been brought against him in the same Court, and which had been sent for trial to the Antrim Quarter Sessions, where, however, it was not allowed to go to the jury. Owing to repeated adjournments the hearing of the charge of perjury extended over 14 months and involved Lavery in expenses to the amount of £120. Ultimately the case was dismissed, although, in his opinion, it was clearly proved that the witnesses who had appeared against Lavery were guilty of perjury. The hon. Member contended that in these circumstances the magistrates—Messrs. Lyons, Douglas, and M'Clintock—had failed to do their duty. He therefore moved for a Select Committee to inquire into their conduct.


seconded the Motion.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the conduct of Messrs. Lyons, Douglas, and M'Clintock, at Crumlin petty sessions, regarding Mr. P. Lavery,"—(Mr. Biggar,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, a few words would satisfy the House that there was no necessity of appointing a Select Committee to consider this case. He did not know these three magistrates, and the proper course would be to bring their conduct, if it had been improper, before the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. The ques- tion raised now was whether these gentlemen had acted wrongly in not sending certain persons to be tried for perjury before a jury; but no case was made out for doing that. Mr. Lavery was rightly acquitted; but the learned Judge who tried the case did not recommend that the witnesses should be indicted for perjury. Naturally feeling aggrieved he took steps to prosecute the witnesses; but the magistrates, after careful consideration, came to the conclusion that they would not be justified in committing the parties for trial. He thought it would be a grave injustice to say that the House should, upon the statement of the hon. Member for Cavan, agree to the high prerogative process against these magistrates which was now proposed. He had himself to consider many cases of persons who, having been acquitted of crimes, wished to prosecute the witnesses who had given evidence against them; but in most cases he assumed that those witnesses were simply mistaken, and always thought that it required grave consideration before directing a criminal prosecution against parties who might have acted bonâ fide, though erroneously.

Question put, and agreed to.

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

Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till Monday next.