HC Deb 14 August 1890 vol 348 cc973-4
MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland how the amount of £30, offered to the editors of the Waterford News and Waterford Citizen, for one day's illegal detention in gaol, has been arrived at; has his attention been called to the case of Mr. Henry O'Connor, of the Leinster Leader, sentenced to a month's imprisonment with hard labour, on a conviction quashed as illegal by the Court of Exchequer after Mr. O'Connor had been four days in gaol; is he aware that Mr. Justice O'Brien decided that Mr. O'Connor has no legal remedy for the wrongful conviction and detention, and that his action for false imprisonment against the Resident Magistrates (Colonel Forbes and Sub-Inspector Mercer) must be non-suited; and in view of the fact that Mr. O'Connor's solicitor proved that he incurred nearly £30 costs in procuring the mandamus from the Queen's Bench compelling the "case stated," which procured his release, independent of the costs of his defence, and that it was on the argument of the Crown Lawyers that this gentleman was held to have no legal remedy, will the Government offer any compensation to Mr. O'Connor, following the principle on which the Waterford editors, without any judicial decision, have been compensated for a shorter confinement?


Messrs. Redmond and Fisher having, through a telegraphic mistake, been detained in custody for some hours after they first tendered bail, I expressed an opinion in this House that they were technically entitled to damages, and undertook that they would not be put to the trouble of legal proceedings, but that the amount of the damages would be otherwise measured. Their solicitor was thereupon instructed to submit a claim. He did so, claiming £50 each. This was refused, as being out of all proportion to any loss or inconvenience which could have been occasioned. An amended claim for £30 each was then submitted, and although regarded as still large, was agreed to in order to carry out the undertaking above mentioned. Mr. Henry O'Connor was sentenced to two months' imprisonment with hard labour, on the llth January last, on a charge of intimidation, contained in notices and editorial comments published at various times in the Leinster Leader, against a man who had taken some evicted land. He declined to appeal, and was committed to prison. On 15th January he was released on the issue of a mandamus for a case stated. The conviction was subsequently quashed on a particular point which did not touch the merits of the case, there being no doubt as to the illegal character of the publications complained of. Mr. O'Connor did subsequently fail in a civil action against the Resident Magistrates who had adjudicated. The Crown was not represented in the case. The learned Judge decided to the effect that the Magistrates had acted bonâ fide, and within their jurisdiction, that there was no question to go to the jury, and that he therefore directed them to find for the defendants. The point on which the conviction by the Magistrates was set aside was the insufficiency of legal proof that the particular copy of the Leinster Leader put in evidence had been published at the Leinster Leader office, and Mr. Baron Dowse, in giving his concurrence in the judgment quashing the conviction, is reported to have stated that he was sorry to arrive at that conclusion, not because the defendant would get off, but because he was morally certain that these papers produced were copies of the Leinster Leader. The Government cannot undertake to offer Mr. O'Connor any compensation whatever in the matter.