HC Deb 03 July 1890 vol 346 cc675-6
DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether his attention has been called to the evidence recently given in the Court of Session in the case of "Kennedy v. Stewart" as to the part played by Mr. Duncan, Chief Clerk in the Crown Office, from which it appears that Mr. Duncan absented himself from his duties and went to Murthly for the purpose of assisting in the purchase of that estate; and, if so, whether the Crown Agent, as head of the office, was informed of the reason of his absence and sanctioned it; whether he has observed that it was proved that, with a view to misleading the intending vendor, Mr. Duncan allowed it to be falsely stated, without contradiction, that neither the Crown Agent or the firm of solicitors of which he is a member had anything to do with the intended purchase; that Mr. Duncan, in order further to mislead the intending vendor, allowed, without contradiction, a false address to be ascribed to himself; and that the Jury in the case unanimously decided that the misrepresentations to which Mr. Duncan was a party formed sufficient ground for quashing the sale of the Murthly estate; whether the Crown Office was used for the transaction of any business relating to the purchase of the Murthly estate; and whether Government has taken, or purpose taking, any steps in connection with Mr. Duncan's conduct as disclosed at the trial?


My attention has been called to the evidence given in the Court of Session in the case referred to, for I was one of the counsel engaged in it. In reply to the first part of the question, I have to say that Mr. Duncan obtained leave of absence on the day mentioned. My answer to all the rest of the question is in the negative. The Jury gave a verdict on issues which expressly ascribed the misrepresentations to a third party, and Mr. Duncan was cognisant of none of those misrepresentations until after they are alleged to have been made. It is only fair to Mr. Duncan to add that I share the strong opinion which all my predecessors have held of his high character and long and valuable public service.