HC Deb 12 June 1890 vol 345 cc723-4
MR. LEES (Oldham)

I beg to ask the Attorney General whether his attention, has been called to the case of Mr. Thomas Harrison, of Hollinwood, Oldham, who is now lying in Strangeways Prison, Manchester, for Contempt of Court; whether he is aware that Mr. Harrison has never committed any offence except in connection with the publication of a pamphlet entitled The Coal Trade and Railway Rates, reflecting upon the action of a Railway Company and certain colliery proprietors; whether the order for a writ of attachment against Mr. Harrison was made in Chambers instead of in open Court, and whether it is the law that a man may be committed for contempt otherwise than by an order made in open Court; whether Mr. Harrison is now detained in prison for a contempt for which he has already humbly apologised to the Court; and whether this is in accordance with the usual practice?


In answer to the question of the hon. Member, my attention had not been called to the case to which he refers; but I am informed that Mr. Harrison was restrained by injunction from publishing certain letters received by him from a Railway Company, and that with full knowledge of that injunction he proceeded to widely circulate a pamphlet containing the letters in question. An application to commit Mr. Harrison for contempt of Court was thereupon made to the Judge in Chambers. Mr. Harrison was represented by counsel, who, as far as I am aware, never objected to the hearing of the application in Chambers, which was in accordance with the law and the usual practice. Upon that occasion Mr. Harrison admitted his offence, and tendered a humble apology, upon which the learned Judge made an order that no attachment should issue against him provided he paid the costs of the application as between solicitor and client. Mr. Harrison, however, failed to pay such costs, and was committed to prison accordingly.