HC Deb 11 June 1891 vol 354 cc145-6
MR. LYELL (Orkney and Shetland)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether a charge of assault was made last year to the Procurator Fiscal of Shetland by Marion Davidson, John Halcrow, and Laurence Laurenson, against John Henderson, shepherd to Lieutenant Bruce, at Cunningsburgh; whether the Procurator Fiscal, Mr. Galloway, declined to prosecute; and, if so, for what reason; whether he is aware that the assaulted persons brought, last January, an action of damages in the Civil Court against the accused, John Henderson, and obtained decree against him for damages and costs in respect of said criminal assaults; whether the Procurator Fiscal is the law agent of Lieutenant Bruce and John Bruce, Esq., of Sumburgh, the proprietors of the estate on which John Henderson is employed; whether the Lord Advocate will direct a criminal prosecution still to be taken; whether, on 29th and 30th May last, the said John Henderson, and an assistant shepherd, Joseph Moar, brutally assaulted and wounded Margaret Smith and Andrew Smith; whether he will direct proceedings to be taken against the assailants in these two oases; and whether he is aware that the said John Henderson has been convicted more than once previously of assault, and that on one of the last occasions, in December, 1889, the Sheriff Substitute is reported in the local papers to have used these words— Sheriff Mackenzie said that accused appeared to be a man with no control over his temper. On the last occasion he pled guilty to assaulting a woman, and was fined 15s., but that did not seem to have any effect upon him, as he now pled guilty to assaulting a lame man. He appeared to go about assaulting people without provocation, and always people who were weaker than himself and could not defend themselves"?


This list of questions relates to a series of petty brawls, little creditable to any of the parties concerned, the blame for which it is difficult exactly to apportion among the disputants, and previous convictions for assault are on record on both sides. My answer to the first and third questions is, Yes; to the second it is also, Yes, the reason being that Crown counsel considered that there should not be any criminal proceeding; to the fourth, I believe that the Procurator Fiscal occasionally acts for the Messrs. Bruce, and on this account the Sheriff very properly employed an independent solicitor to conduct the inquiry; to the fifth, No; to the sixth and seventh, that the complaints are now under consideration; to the first part of the eighth, Yes, and to the latter part of it, that the quotation resembles what the Sheriff Substitute said, but is not believed to be a correct report.