HC Deb 11 March 1889 vol 333 cc1371-2
MR. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)

asked the President of the Local Govern- ment Board whether his attention has been called to the following case—Boothby v. Robinson and others—an action tried before His Honour Judge Stonor and a special jury at the Marylebone County Court, on Tuesday, 5th March, the facts as reported by the Press being as follows:—The Plaintiff was ordered by the St. Pancras Poor Law Guardians to pay for his wife's-maintenance, which he declined to do, on the ground that the wife had failed in her covenant— He was then ordered to be detained until the money was paid, was taken to the casual ward, and an attempt was made to undress him for the purposes of a bath. Seeing the filthy state of the casual inmates the Plaintiff declined, though this cost him a severe struggle with the attendants. Ultimately, after being detained about eight hours, he paid a portion of the money, and was released without any explanation. Plaintiff had lost his situation through this act of the Guardians. His Honour, in addressing the Jury, drew attention to the high-handed manner in which Plaintiff had been treated. The Jury retired, and returned almost immediately with a verdict for Plaintiff, damages £100. Because the case had been remitted from a Superior Court, costs on the scale of the High Court were allowed; and whether he will issue instructions to prevent such proceedings by Boards of Guardians in future?


I have communicated with the Guardians of St. Pancras, and it appears that the main facts stated in the Question are substantially correct. The detention was obviously illegal, and the result of the action against the Guardians, with a verdict of £100 damages, I think is likely to be much more effective than any suggestion which might be made by the Local Government Board.