§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether it is the usual practice, either in the Courts of Quarter Sessions or of Assize or in the Superior Courts, to withhold from the Reporters of the Public Press, upon the motion of any party, all information as to the name of the person charged, and the nature of the offence of which he is accused; and, whether there is any Statute or rule of Law giving such power either to Magistrates or to Coroners; and, if not, whether such action as that of the Magistrates at Southampton, and of the Coroner, Mr. Vulliamy, in Suffolk, in excluding the Press before any charge has been advanced against an accused person is legal?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
In proceedings by indictment it is the practice to read out in open Court to the prisoner the bill found against him by the Grand Jury, or the material part thereof, and to take his plea thereon. Thus, everybody in the Court is informed of the name of the person charged, and of the nature of the accusation. Before magistrates the practice is regulated by 11 & 12 Viet. c. 42, and the proceedings may be in private. It has been a subject of controversy whether a Coroner's Inquest ought necessarily to be a public proceeding; but the weight of authority seems to be decidedly in favour of the view that a Coroner has an absolute discretion to exclude whom he will. There is no Statute regulating the practice on 1130 Coroner's Inquests as far as regards the presence of reporters.