HC Deb 02 July 1877 vol 235 cc600-1

asked the Secretary of State for the War Department, Whether the recent arrest of two persons named Cowing and Deadman, at the suit of the War Department (or the Crown), decided by the judgment of the Court of Exchequer to have been effected on illegal process, was sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government; and, if so, whether he is prepared to make adequate compensation to the persons arrested in respect of their illegal imprisonment?


in reply, said, the matter was one in which no directions were given by the Treasury or by any other Department of the Government. What had been done occurred in the ordinary course of business. He understood that the case was something of this kind—An action was brought against his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, or against the Crown, by certain persons in regard to the use of Plumstead Common. The action was tried, and the Court decided in favour of the Crown, leaving the plaintiffs to pay the costs. When the costs were applied for, the plaintiffs either had no property, or had conveyed away what property they had. In these circumstances the Solicitor to the Treasury, pursuing what he considered to be the usual course, took steps for the arrest of these persons. He was not informed of this till some days afterwards, but on hearing of it, and in consultation with his right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, orders were given for the discharge of these persons. Subsequently, he believed, a plea was made in their behalf in the Court of Exchequer, and, as the Government made no appearance in the case beyond stating that they had been discharged, a decision was given in their favour. He had called on the Solicitor to the Treasury to make a full Report on the subject, and when it was received he should be better able to judge of the proper course to be pursued.