HC Deb 14 June 1878 vol 240 cc1561-7

, in rising to call attention to the circumstances connected with the murder of Mr. Ogle, The Times correspondent in Thessaly, said, he felt that an apology was due from him to the House for attempting, at so late an hour, to trespass upon its attention; but his Notice had been on the Paper ever since the 9th of May last, and he had not had an opportunity of bringing it forward. He did not, at that late hour, intend to go into the circumstances connected with the murder of Mr. Ogle. An inquiry had been instituted into the circumstances under which that murder was committed, and a Report had been made in reference to it; but that Report had not been published. Had it been made public, it might not have been necessary for him to call attention to this very painful matter. Its publication, had, however, been constantly put off; and, indeed, he saw no greater prospect now for its production than there existed when the House separated for the Whitsuntide Recess. He wished distinctly to state that he was not impelled to take this matter up by any Party considerations, but by the strong conviction which he entertained that justice had not been done. Mr. Ogle was an acquaintance of his own, a gentleman for whom he had the highest respect, and he should be very sorry to think that his relatives would longer be left in ignorance as to the circumstances under which he had met his untimely fate. If proper steps had been taken to ascertain the entire truth of the matter, he could not but think that it would have been brought to light. He was not aware that the hon. Baronet the Member for West Kent (Sir Charles Mills) took an interest in the question, or he certainly should not have moved in the matter without first consulting him. What he (Mr. Samuelson) complained of now was the delay which had taken place in the presentation of the Papers which had been promised. It seemed to him that the murder of an Englishman was, after all, a matter of some importance, and his object was to impress upon the Government the necessity of giving the relatives of Mr. Ogle the information which they so greatly desired to receive. He could not believe that the delay which had occurred on the part of the Government had been intentional; but he did say that it was most cruel to the relatives of the murdered man. Aspersions had been made upon the character of the late Mr. Ogle. He had been accused of rashness and a want of discretion; and it had also been said that he fell fighting against the Turks with arms in his hands. All these statements he should be prepared at the proper time to disprove. He could now inform the House that Mr. Ogle's revolver was left at home, and that, at the time of his murder, he was entirely unarmed, his only weapon of defence being a walking stick which he carried. He would only further say that he believed that no man was ever actuated by purer motives, or a greater desire to be impartial, in his investigations than Mr. Ogle. That gentleman was murdered on the 30th of March near Macrinitza. On the 9th of May he asked the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bourke)—"What was the present condition of Consul-General Fawcett's investigation into the murder of Mr. Ogle?" He was informed that an inquiry had taken place, and that it had concluded on the 6th of May, and the Under Secretary of State added—"The report will be considered by Her Majesty's Government." That was in answer to an inquiry of his as to whether it would be laid on the Table of the House? The hon. Gentleman did not then promise that it would be laid upon the Table, though he did not know why he should have refrained from making that promise. But, on the 16th of May, he asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Report had been received, and, if so, whether it would be laid on the Table as soon as possible? The right hon. Gentleman, he must say, with great courtesy, informed him that the Report had not arrived, but that when it did arrive it should, as soon as possible, be laid on the Table of the House. On the 30th of May he wrote to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and again asked him whether the Report had been received, and, if so, when it would be produced? He must here recall for a moment to hon. Gentlemen's minds the fact that all this time the bereaved relatives of Mr. Ogle were suffering under the grief which they must naturally feel at his murder, and disappointed in the desire which they must naturally experience to know how it took place, and whether he in was any way in fault or not. That was his excuse for so constantly pressing for the publica- tion of the Papers. He could conceive no reason for witholding them. Nor did he believe that the Government had any reason or wish to withhold them. He was answered on the 30th of May by the Under Secretary of State to the effect that the Report had been received, and that there would be no delay in its publication. On the 3rd of June he again asked the hon. Gentleman in the House, when the Papers would be in the possession of hon. Members, and whether he could promise that they should have them before the House separated for the Whitsuntide Recess? The reply was, if possible; if not, they should certainly have them during the Recess. On the 12th of June, after the Recess, he asked the hon. Gentleman privately, whether the Papers were soon to be presented to the House, and whether he could explain the delay? The hon. Gentleman gave him an answer which, he must say, was not satisfactory to him, and he stated so at the time. He was sorry the hon. Gentleman was not now in his place. He said that he had done his very best, that the delay was owing to the fact that the printer had taken a holiday; and, after some hesitation, he added something about a map having to be prepared. Now, the map was a very small matter. One had already appeared in The Graphic, and he did not suppose that the map which would be printed and sent round with the Papers would be one bit better than that which had been given in that paper; and he did not think it was right that an hon. Gentleman in the position of the Under Secretary of State should have put off with such excuses even an humble Member of the House, when he was actuated by a sense of duty in the inquiries which he made. The Report had been in the hands of the Government since the 30th of May—at least a fortnight—and he should like to know what had been the finding of the Commission of Inquiry over which Consul General Fawcett presided? He should like to know whether the Turkish authorities were proved to be free from complicity in the guilt of Mr. Ogle's murder, or found guilty of complicity? He desired himself to make no assertion. He wished to know whether the Government were satisfied that the inquiry had been searching, and that the best possible evidence procurable had been obtained? If not, he should like to know whether it was the intention of the Government to institute a fresh inquiry? If so, he might not have to trouble the House further on this painful question; if not, and the evidence was not satisfactory, he should certainly feel it to be his duty to call the attention of the House to the case at greater length. The matter could not be allowed to rest where it was. A British subject had been murdered and decapitated under circumstances of the very greatest suspicion. The murder was at present shrouded in mystery. The Government had the Report in their hands, and they should be able to lift up the veil of mystery by which the crime was surrounded. If proper evidence were not given before the Commission, such evidence was at least procurable, and could be produced if the witnesses were properly protected. He should like to ask, also, if Iskender Pasha, the Turkish Commander-in-Chief, was on the Commission? He knew, as a fact, that witnesses were afraid to come forward and give evidence before him. There was much presumptive evidence that the authorities were responsible for the murder. He did not say that evidence was true; but he had in his own possession a mass of evidence all tending in one direction—namely, that a most cruel and inhuman murder had been committed. He had every reason to believe in the integrity of the witnesses; but from his knowledge of the district and the surrounding country, he knew how utterly impossible it was to suppose that they should come forward and give evidence unless they were directly assured that England would protect them while giving their evidence, and that afterwards they would be removed to a place of safety. The motives for the murder would not be far to seek. It would not be difficult to prophecy the fate of an Englishman, of whom it might be said in the language of The Times, that he had— Tracked murder, and rapine, and brutal lust home to the Chief of the Police of Thessaly, and denounced publicly the official miscreant. Who was that Chief of the Police of Thessaly? No other than Amoosh Aga, a noted brigand, of whom he should be able to say more at another time. This, as he had said, was no party question. The murder of an Englishman who was endeavouring to discharge his duty at a distance from his own country could not possibly be a matter of Party feeling. What he desired to ascertain was the true circumstances of the case. He wanted those assertions made by the people of Volo both to him and to others, to be confirmed or authoritatively contradicted. He wanted justice to be done upon the murderers, and the instigators of the crime, if any could be found; and he wanted to free from the aspersions cast upon it, by persons interested in hushing up the inquiry, the memory of Mr. Ogle, who was universally respected for his humanity, and his brave, generous, and self-denying qualities. He was a man possessed of abilities of no mean order, he was industrious, and there was a career of usefulness open to him. He thought the murder of such a man should not pass without an expression of regret from Her Majesty's Government, and the guilty persons being brought to justice. He asserted that these people could be discovered with the greatest ease, if only a proper inquiry was instituted, conducted by Englishmen, and from which Turks were excluded. If the Government wished foreign and half-barbarian countries to believe that there was still the same ægis of protection as of yore cast over Englishmen by the country on the Possessions of which they boasted the sun never set, then they ought to be in a position to say that this inquiry had actually succeeded, and that they could lay their hand upon the guilty persons; or that such an inquiry would be instituted as would bring about that desirable result.


said, he was exceedingly sorry that his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State was not in his place at that moment. He could assure the House and the hon. Member that this was a matter with regard to which there had been, and could be, no want of interest on the part of Her Majesty's Government. He had promised, as the hon. Member had truly reminded the House, that as soon as the Papers were sent home they should, without any further delay, be laid on the Table. They had now been brought to this country, and were in the hands of the printer. The House was perfectly well aware that when Papers had been sent to be printed they were out of the control, and, to a great extent, beyond the influence of the Government, though he believed that his hon. Friend the Under Secretary had done what he could to accelerate their printing. It had, however, certainly so happened, unfortunately, that they had not been delivered in such time as it was hoped they would have been. He thought it would be inexpedient that he should attempt to give anything like an imperfect account of those Papers at that moment; but if the hon. Gentleman would put a Question on the subject on Monday, he would undertake that some answer should be given that might be deemed satisfactory. He only wished to assure the hon. Member and the House that the Government regarded this matter as one of serious importance, and that there was not the slightest intention on their part either to dally with it, or to conceal from the House the information which they possessed in reference to it.

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

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till Monday next.