HC Deb 17 April 1888 vol 324 cc1479-80
DR. R. MACDONALD (Ross and Cromarty)

asked the Lord Advocate, Whether the three imprisoned Tiree crofters were persuaded by the Edinburgh Prison authorities to sign a document acknowledging the illegality of their actions, and promising, if the Lord Advocate would recommend a commutation of their sentence, to go home at once to Tiree, and not to attend any public meetings in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greenock, or elsewhere, nor to encourage in any way those who attack the administration of the Law; and, whether the said document was explained to them, before they appended their signatures, in their own language—Gaelic.

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

I do not believe that the Prison Authorities interfered in this matter at all, and I never had any communication with them on the subject. A gentleman connected with benevolent Societies in Glasgow came to Edinburgh and visited the prisoners; and then wrote to me as the result of what he described as a "long and interesting conversation," that they asked him "strongly to say on their behalf" that— If they are let out of prison now, and allowed to go home in peace, that they will always prove themselves the most law-abiding and very best friends of law and order in Tiree. This was the very first communication received on the subject. I directed a reply to be sent, in which it was stated that— The Lord Advocate was not prepared to take any step that may tend to alter the course of law, if, as on a former occasion, those who have broken it are to be received and fêted as innocent persons on the Royal prerogative of mercy being extended to them. I received a reply from the same gentleman—a document written in his hand-writing, and signed by the prisoners, containing, inter alia, the statements referred to in the Question. The gentleman in the covering letter stated that the paper had been drawn by himself, and "carefully considered" by the prisoners. A letter to him from the prisoners' solicitor was also enclosed, indicating that they were in communication on the subject.