HC Deb 03 August 1885 vol 300 cc843-5

said, that, seeing the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt) in his place, he wished to put a Question to him with reference to his statement on Friday night, that he knew nothing of the prosecution of the Jeffreys' case, that it was not conducted by the police, but by the local authorities. He (Mr. Callan) wished to ask, Whether it was not the fact that the local authorities— namely, the Chelsea Vestry—took no part in that prosecution any more than the Home Office? He also asked, Whether a representative from the Home Office did not attend on the third occasion at the Police Court; whether he did not make a report to his superiors; and, if so, what was its nature; why did the late Home Secretary not direct the Public Prosecutor to intervene in that scandalous and abominable case; whether the right hon. Gentleman still adhered to his statement that Inspector Minahan was dismissed for insubordination; and whether he had seen the letter in The Pall Mall Gazette, in which Inspector Minahan stated that he was dismissed for describing Mrs. Jeffreys's house as a "brothel for the nobility?"


in reply, said, it was impossible to carry all these Questions in one's head; but he should answer, as far as he could. He answered the points very fully the other night when they were raised in the debate. He did not state that the prosecution in the Jeffreys' case had been conducted by the Local Authorities. On the contrary, he specifically stated that it was conducted by a Society with which Mr. B. Scott, the City Chamberlain, was connected, being one of its leading members, and that they were responsible for the conduct of the prosecution, which the hon. Member described as disgracefully conducted.


interposing, denied that he had so described the prosecution. He had asked why the Public Prosecutor had not intervened in such a scandalous and abominable case? He cast no reflection on the prosecution.


said, he saw no reason to interfere. The prosecution was conducted by persons who had a right to do so, and he saw no reason to interfere. An attack had been made on the police in this matter by Mr. Minahan, who stated generally that they were in connivance with the owners of these houses. He should read to the House a paragraph from the Report of the Chelsea Vestry at exactly the same period of 1883–4. It was headed, "The disorderly houses at Chelsea," and was as follows:— The committee are unable to estimate too highly the services which the police have continued to render them in their investigations. The ready attention, the discriminate action, the painstaking observation, and the thorough reports with which the committee have been favoured by the Commissioners and the local officers have enabled them to continue the administration of a wholesome, and, indeed, valuable check to a nefarious trade, which, but a few years since, endangered the moral tone and reputation of the parish. He thought the House would receive that as against the statement of Mr. Minahan. It was not accurate to say that Mr. Minahan was dismissed. He was reproved for insubordination, and his rank was reduced and upon that he resigned. The insubordination did not consist in the charge with reference to the Jeffreys' case; it was only one of 15 instances in which he charged his superior officers with misconduct. All these charges were examined into and were found to be baseless. His resignation was one and a-half years before the Jeffreys' case arose; and it was entirely untrue that that case was the main or prominent part in Minahan's charges. He brought many charges against the police, and the only part which the Home Office had in the matter was to inquire into the foundation for the charges brought aginst persons of all ranks in the police by Minahan. It was his duty to see that they were inquired into, and he did so; and it was because the Home Office had reason to believe that these charges would be made against the police on the evidence, that it was represented at the hearing. The charges against the police made by Minahan had been carefully investigated. Objection had been taken to the fact that the Commissioners of Police undertook that investigation; but if they were not the proper persons, who were? If he (Sir William Harcourt) had considered that the Commissioners were unfit to conduct such an inquiry, it would have been his duty to remove them. The conclusions to which they arrived were that the charges made by Minahan against his superiors were unfounded. In that conclusion he agreed, and it had, therefore, been his duty to support in this House the Commissioners of Police in action which was necessary for the discipline of the Force.


gave Notice on the Appropriation Bill to call attention to the conduct of the late Home Secretary with reference to the Jeffreys' case and other cases.