HC Deb 06 May 1881 vol 260 cc1963-4

asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether his attention has been called to another article of the "Boston Independent" newspaper, extensively circulated, in which the following passage appears:— Let the Attorney General do even-handed justice, and do not let his victims be selected to gratify party spite or appease party passion; whether this is the same newspaper as that referred to in the evidence before the Boston Election Commissioners, page 599, given by Mr. R. W. Millington, as follows:— On the day before the polling, or perhaps two days before, an intimation was made to my partner that the proprietor of the 'Independent' newspaper thought that a donation should be given to him for the support which had been and was about to be given to the Conservative cause. It was at once referred to Mr. Garfit. He asked our opinion about it. I myself was present with my partner on that occasion, and we thought the amount asked (£150) was a reasonable one. The grounds for the subscription alleged were that the proprietor had lately been the editor of the opposition paper, the Liberal newspaper, and that, in consequence of his having gone over with certain of his staff, he encountered a good deal of opposition, and that he was likely to lose possibly some appointments as agent for other newspapers, and, altogether, we thought it was a proper payment to make, and Mr. Garfit was advised to sanction it, that is, the promise of it. The money has not yet been paid. I distinctly swear that in advising Mr. Garfit to give the money I had not in view the buying of the vote of the proprietor of the paper. That vote we counted on as a certainty: Question:—Then it was a pure gift. Did you during the election, whenever there were meetings, buy certain numbers of the newspaper and pay for them for the purpose of distribution?—Yes. And you also paid for your advertisements?— Yes; we also paid for our advertisements. In the ordinary way?—Yes. and, whether he will direct inquiries to be made as to who the persons are who have found the money for and caused articles of this newspaper to be reprinted and circulated throughout Lin- colnshire in a manner calculated to affect the course of justice? In putting the Question, he asked to be allowed to make a short personal statement. On Monday last, when he put a similar Question, the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) made a remark which he did not hear. He had, however, been told that the hon. and learned Gentleman had asked whether it was proper that such a Question should be put by a Gentleman who was counsel for the prosecution. As this suggestion had been made, he wished to say that he had nothing whatever to do with the prosecution. He simply put the Questions as the Representative of a Lincolnshire constituency which was interested in the subject.


said, he believed on Monday that the hon. Member was at that time retained for the prosecution; but he found he was mistaken. He wished to ask the Attorney General what was the date of the article referred to in the Question, and whether he was aware that the paper mentioned was very small and circulated in Boston only?


, in reply, said, he believed the date was not a recent date, and the article had not been published since the hon. Member's previous Question. He knew nothing of the size or circulation of the paper; but the particular article had been widely circulated among the class from whom the jurymen would probably be drawn, and slip copies had been sent to himself and to other Members of the House. The paper was the paper referred to in evidence. It was painful to him to have to take such proceedings of the kind pending, and the only object of the Government was to uphold the administration of justice.