HC Deb 01 March 1881 vol 258 cc1942-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to a case tried before the Police or Burgh Magistrates' Court, Greenock, on the 21st instant, in which a woman was convicted of being drunk and disorderly on the night of the 19th, and was ordered to pay a fine or go to prison for five days; whether it be true that two policemen swore to her being the guilty person; also, that the Law officers produced copies of two previous convictions against her; whether it was afterwards found that the wrong person had been tried and convicted, and had to be discharged, and the really guilty party tried; whether, for the bettor protection of the public against such acts, he will order the policemen and the Law officers to be put on their trial for perjury by the Public Prosecutor; and, if it be in conformity with Law, he will order the suspension of the magistrate from the exercise of magisterial duties, and the assessor from being the adviser of the court?


Sir, I have received a report on this case of mistaken identity from the Sheriff of Renfrewshire, who has inquired into it personally. His statement is too long to be given to the House; but I may say that as regards the conduct of the police there is some reason for the complaint implied in my hon. Friend's Question. I do not intend to direct that the constables should be prosecuted for perjury, because the facts do not warrant such a charge; but I have requested the Sheriff, in conjunction with the Chief Constable, to deal with the offence in such a way as may tend to prevent its repetition. I am happy to say there is no ground for any reflection on the magistrate or his assessor, who only decided on the evidence as laid before them.