HC Deb 11 March 1889 vol 333 cc1381-2
DR. M'DONALD (Ross and Cromarty)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether his attention has been called to a recent criminal trial at Stornoway, against Mr. Donald MacRae, schoolmaster of Balallan, and others, for the expulsion of intruders from a meeting of the Highland Land League, after notice had been given to the said intruders to retire; whether the Sheriff dismissed the complaint as unfounded, and characterized the alleged offence as unknown to the law of Scotland; whether the Procurator Fiscal, or his deputy, at whose instance the complaint was raised, are agents for Lady Matheson, the proprietrix of the Island; whether, in view of the fact that the complaint was instituted either from ignorance of the law or otherwise, any notice has been taken of the conduct of the Procurator Fiscal or his deputy; and, whether, as the machinery of the Criminal Court has been improperly set in motion, it is intended to make any compensation or redress to Mr. MacRae and the other defendants?


The persons mentioned in the question of the hon. Gentleman were tried summarily on a charge of assaulting a man in Balallan School by seizing hold of and compressing his throat, to the effusion of blood and injury of the person, and tearing his coat and forcibly ejecting him from the school. The Sheriff did not characterize the offence thus alleged as unknown to the law of Scotland, and such a decision would have been manifestly untenable. The accused were acquitted on the ground that the evidence did not sustain the charge. The man alleged to have been injured had declined to withdraw from a meeting which had desired him to do so, and the evidence related to the degree of pressure with which that request was enforced. The case had been reported to the Fiscal by the police in the usual way. The Procurator Fiscal and his deputy are in partnership as solicitors, and I am informed that they are sometimes employed professionally by Lady Matheson, as well as by other residents in the district, including one of the persons prosecuted on this occasion. The assumptions upon which the last two questions rest being incorrect, no action is called for in either of the directions suggested.