HC Deb 18 July 1879 vol 248 cc756-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether, considering that evidence has been brought to his notice since the conviction of the claimant to the Tichborne estates in February 1874, and the fact that, according to usage, the sentence passed upon him for swearing that he was not Arthur Orton would expire on the 10th of August next; considering also the grave legal doubts that the Court had power to give more than one sentence for a supposed perjury, and that the jury have made certain statements as to the circumstances under which they found their verdict, he would advise Her Majesty to liberate the prisoner on the 10th of August next; and, if not, whether he will forthwith investigate the numerous matters to which his attention has been called in support of the identity of the claimant with. Roger Tichborne; whether the Officers of the Treasury have made any report to the Home Secretary regarding the evidence of Captain Barry, of New Zealand; whether he will lay upon the Table of the House any Reports from the different governors of the various prisons in which the claimant has been confined tending to show that he cannot be Arthur Orton; whether it is true that Her Majesty's Ministers, or any of them, advised the Queen to send a telegram of sympathy to Lady Radcliffe, congratulating her upon the result of the trial; and, whether, as a matter of fact, the trial of the claimant has not cost the country more than a quarter of a million of money?


Sir, I am afraid that my answer will not give more satisfaction to the hon. Gentleman than some of my previous ones; but I will answer the Question to the best of my ability. I see that he refers to grave legal doubts; but what they are is not quite clear from the terms of the Question. The legality of the sentence, I apprehend, is not a matter for the Secretary of State to try. The prisoner is in custody under a sentence of a Court of Justice, and unless that sentence is set aside by a competent authority, it is the duty of the Secretary of State to see that it is carried out, unless there are reasons to the contrary on other grounds. I can see no reason at the present moment, having carefully considered all the matters laid before me relating to the case in question, to alter the decision I originally came to. I have stated in the House, more than once, that it is not my intention to interfere with the execution and carrying out of that sentence. The Solicitor to the Treasury has had all the Papers relating to Captain Barry, and I am advised by him that there is no reason why any action should be taken by me with respect to these Papers. I am not aware whether any Reports have been received from the governors of prisons tending to show that the prisoner is not Arthur Orton. There are a great mass of Papers which I directed to be searched to-day; but nothing of the kind has been discovered in them, and that is the only information that I have received. I am not aware that any of Her Majesty's Ministers advised the Queen to send a telegram of sympathy to Lady Radcliffe, or to anyone else connected with this case. With regard to the last part of the Question, I must refer the hon. Member to the Secretary to the Treasury, who has been asked about the expense on several occasions. It does not come within my Department.