§ MR. BIGGAR
asked the Secretary of State for War, Is it true that the proceedings of a District Court Martial for the trial of Sergeant Greene, of the Second Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, on the 23rd and 27th December 1883, were not received by the Judge Advocate General until July 1884, and who is responsible for such delay; was this Non-commissioned Officer strongly recommended to mercy by the Court, and was the letter of recommendation detached, and by whom; is it customary for letters of recommendation to be transmitted with the proceedings of all Courts Martial to the Judge Advocate General's office; was it proved in evidence that, under the circumstances, Sergeant Greene acted in accordance with custom in quitting his guard on the 7th of November 1883; and, if Sergeant Greene had been proved guilty of so heinous a Military crime as "quitting his guard," how is it that so slight a punishment as reduction to one grade lower was the award, and that that award was accompanied with the strong recommendation to mercy, and why was the recommendation to mercy not acted upon?
§ THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL (Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN)
, in reply, said, that the proceedings in the court martial for the trial of Sergeant Greene were received by the Judge Advocate General on the 15th of January, 1884, 795 and not in July, 1884, as implied in the Question; and, considering that the trial took place in Alexandria, and was not concluded until the 27th of December, 1883, and that the proceedings were only confirmed on the 1st of January, 1884, there was no delay whatever in the transmission. As far as he could ascertain, the non-commissioned officer in question was not strongly recommended to mercy, nor was he so recommended at all. Recommendations to mercy were, by the Army Act, 1881, required to be attached to, and to form part of, the proceedings of a court martial, and they were invariably transmitted to the Judge Advocate General's Office. Sergeant Greene was not charged with quitting his guard, and consequently the question whether he acted in accordance with custom in so doing never arose. What he was charged with was, neglect of duty in having, when sergeant of the main guard, taken out a patrol and conducted another sergeant to the guardroom of the Ravelin Barracks without making a report of his having done so to the officer in command of the main guard, and the case was fully proved. He could not say that this was a "heinous military crime;" but it was a breach of military duty which could not be overlooked, especially in the case of an Army on active service. The man bore an excellent character; and the Court, apparently taking the most lenient view they could of his offence, sentenced him to the lightest possible punishment—reduction to one lower grade. The recommendation to mercy was not acted upon for the best possible reason—namely, that it never existed.