HC Deb 10 February 1891 vol 350 cc304-5
MR. JACOB BRIGHT (Manchester, S.W)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has seen the following paragraph in the Barnsley Chronicle of Saturday, 31st January:— Why not the man as well?—Ann Meadows, widow, Barnsley, was charged with having accosted people for an improper purpose in Pontefract Road, Friday night last. P.C. Harris proved the case. Defendant had only come out of Wakefield Gaol on that day (Friday). In the course of the proceedings, Mr. Carrington (the magistrates' clerk) made a private communication to the Bench. A sotto voce conversation ensued, in which Superintendent Kane also joined. Defendant was sent back to prison as a rogue and vagabond, for three months. If it is in accordance with the approved practice in our Courts of Justice that words should be used to influence those who are sitting in judgment which cannot be heard by the accused person; and will he consider whether a more lenient sentence would not be a more just sentence in this case?


I am informed by the Clerk to the Justices that the only communication made by him during the case was in reply to a question asked by one of the Justices, having reference to the man who was in the company of the defendant, and that nothing said by him, or by the Superintendent, had the slightest bearing on the case against the prisoner. Nothing, therefore, seems to have occurred contrary to the rules which should govern the practice of the Court. The woman was a bad character, having been convicted no less than six times for similar offences since July, 1889, and it was in respect of these convictions, coupled with proof of gross public indecency, that the Justices passed the sentence, with which I am not able to advise any interference.