HC Deb 23 February 1880 vol 250 cc1187-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the information contained in the public press relative to the execution of Wil- liam Cassidy at Manchester on the 17th instant; whether it is true that the Deputy Governor of the jail stated the drop then used to have been "eight or nine feet in height," and admitted, when interrogated by a juror, "that it might have been nine feet six inches in height," and that a juror remarked in reference to the corpse of the criminal, "his head is nearly off his body;" whether, if such a statement is true, he will take such steps as would stop such a mode of execution in the future; and, whether he will object to lay upon the Table of the House the regulations now in force in the jails under the care of the Home Department having reference to executions, including, also, the existing regulations as to the admission of reporters to the public press on these occasions?


in reply, said, that he had communicated with the Governor of Cheetham Gaol with respect to the execution of William Cassidy, and had received a reply from him. It was not true that he had admitted that the drop was 9 feet 6 inches and he was not at the inquest in a position to correct the statement of a juror that it was between 8 feet and 9 feet. On his return to the gaol he had it measured. It was found to be 8 feet 5 inches. The death was instantaneous, and there was nothing to show any undue violence. The regulations now in force were those issued by the Secretary of State in 1868, under the Private Executions Act, but they did not affect the manner in which the sentence was to be executed. That had been left from time immemorial to the High Sheriff, and the Home Office had never interfered; but if any abuse occurred, he would be the first to do so. He could not add anything to what he had stated on Friday, that he would put himself in communication with the local authorities, and see what could be done with regard to the admission of the Press, or some representatives on behalf of the public; but amongst the evils complained of under the former system were the reports of the executions in the papers.