HC Deb 06 March 1888 vol 323 cc377-9
MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether, in the case of the man Coleman, alleged to have been assaulted by the police after he was in actual custody in Bow Street Police Station on the 13th of November, he is aware that evidence on oath was given as to this assault before Mr. Vaughan in open Court at Bow Street, the Treasury Solicitor being present; that a summons for the assault was granted by Mr. Vaughan against a police constable on sworn information duly filed in Court; whether, Coleman being a prisoner, an order of the Home Office Authorities was applied for, and granted, for the attendance and examination of Coleman at the hearing in Court; whether, on the return of the summons before Mr. Bridge, magistrate, sitting at Bow Street, half-an-hour's adjournment was asked for by a solicitor's clerk, on the double ground that Coleman's solicitor was then actually speaking in another Court, in another case, and that Coleman himself had not been yet brought up from the prison; whether counsel for the Government opposed such brief adjournment, and whether the summons against the police was there- upon dismissed with £10 costs, without any hearing, and in the actual absence both of Coleman and his attorney; how long knowledge of the sworn informations above referred to has been in the possession of the Solicitors to the Treasury; and, whether such informations have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions or to the Law Officers of the Crown?


A summons for assault against Police-constable 99 E was granted by Mr. Vaughan on the 3rd of December on the sworn information of John Coleman, duly filed. No evidence on oath was given as to this assault in open Court. The Treasury Solicitor believes that neither he nor anyone representing him was present. The hearing of the summons was adjourned from the 10th to the 17th of December, and an order of the Home Office for the attendance of Coleman on that day was applied for and immediately granted. On the 16th of December, however, Coleman's solicitor applied that this order might be suspended indefinitely, saying that the case would have to be postponed on account of the absence of a witness. No application whatever for adjournment was made to the Court on the 17th of December. The clerk to Coleman's solicitor applied privately, when the magistrate was not in Court, to Mr. Poland, the counsel for the police constable, to consent to an adjournment to a later day. Mr. Poland declined to consent to an adjournment over the 17th, but expressed his willingness to wait for Coleman's counsel. The clerk to Coleman's solicitor then said he should withdraw the summons; and when the magistrate came into Court he so informed the magistrate, without asking for an adjournment. The magistrate, on the application of Mr. Poland, and in the presence of the representative of Coleman's solicitor, dismissed the summons, with 10 guineas cost, saying that the withdrawal of the summons showed there was no justification for its being granted, and that one object for which it was demanded was to prejudice the conduct of the police in the eyes of the public. The information came to the knowledge of the Treasury Solicitor on the 15th of December. It has not been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions or to the Law Officers.


offered to furnish the right hon. Gentleman with copies of the sworn depositions testifying that there had been an assault upon Coleman by the police.