HC Deb 05 March 1885 vol 295 cc88-9

asked the Lord Advocate, Whether his attention had been directed to the case of John Macdonald, postal runner or messenger betwixt Carr Bridge and Ariemore, in the county of Inverness, who, in the month of November 1883, in the presence of several persons on the Railway platform at Ariemore, while in charge of the mail bag3, was arrested by two policemen, and conveyed a prisoner to Inverness, on a charge of being concerned in a poaching affray on the River Dulnan; whether, notwithstanding his judicial denial of the alleged offence, he was detained iii strict confinement for ten days; and, whether compensation can be made to him for his wrongous imprisonment and for the expense he was put to in many ways, particularly in providing a substitute while in prison, and thereafter while the matter was under investigation by the Postal authorities?


I have inquired into this case. Macdonald, although he is a post-runner, was not apprehended while in charge of the mail bags; and the occurrence referred in the Question was an assault by night of a very serious description, by eight men upon two water bailiffs in the employment of the Spey Fishery Board. Macdonald was incarcerated for nine days. He was apprehended on the 13th of November, and liberated on bail on the 22nd. The evidence which led to Macdonald's apprehension was his own statement to another person that he was one of the gang of eight men, and the statement of one of the water bailiffs assaulted, that he was almost sure that Macdonald was one of the party. The evidence, however, did not appear to the Crown counsel sufficient, and, therefore, Macdonald was not tried; but the evidence seems to have been such as to warrant his apprehension and his detention for further examination. That a man should be detained in prison for several days on suspicion, and afterwards liberated without trial, is always a matter of regret; but such cases are occasionally unavoidable in the administration of criminal justice. There is no ground or precedent for awarding compensation to Macdonald, and I know of no fund from which compensation could be paid. Further, with reference to this part of the Question, I must repeat that the chief cause of Macdonald's apprehension was his own statement already mentioned.