HC Deb 05 April 1889 vol 334 cc1708-9
MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he can state the special circumstances of the case which made it necessary to retain the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, Mr. Dicey, and Mr. R. S. Wright on behalf of the Crown in the case of the Crown v. Stevenson, which was an information by the Attorney General to recover penalties for keeping an illicit still; and what was the total amount of fees paid to these counsel?


According to the arrangement made in pursuance of the recommendations of the Committee on the legal business of the Government, the responsibility as to the number of counsel to be instructed rests with the Attorney General. The case in connection with the illicit distillery, which has just been concluded, was one of the most important that has been tried for many years. There were five cases against seven different people, and between 50 and 60 witnesses, and the case was one requiring the closest attention. The Attorney General originally directed that one Law Officer only should be instructed, but having regard to the nature of the case, the necessity of constant supervision, and the fact that the Customs had another case on in the House of Lords at the same time, it was deemed to be absolutely necessary to instruct both Law Officers. The instruction to the juniors was in accordance with the practice in cases of such a nature. The Attorney General personally investigated the case before giving directions as to counsel. As regards the amount of fees, it is wholly unusual to make any such statement, and it would, in my opinion, be detrimental to the public service that any such statement should be made.


gave notice that in Committee of Supply he should call attention to this matter.