HC Deb 02 March 1893 vol 9 cc827-8
MR.HANBURY (Preston)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty what precedents exist for the entire reversal by the Admiralty of the decisions of duly-constituted Courts Martial; whether a prisoner, who has been fully acquitted after formal trial by a Court Martial, is liable to be informally re-tried and condemned on the same charge by the Lords Commissioners; whether the Court which tried and acquitted Captain Hastings attributed the accident wholly to the imperfection of the Admiralty Chart; and whether the Board of Admiralty alleged that the Circular Letter of April 14, 1892, and the instructions given in Notes on Navigation, ed. 1892, to which they referred in their recent Minute, were not within the knowledge of the Court Martial when they gave their verdict?


In answer to my hon. Friend's first and second questions, there are precedents for the course taken by the Admiralty, notably that of the acquittal, in 1862, of Captain Sotheby for the loss of the Conqueror, and his subsequent censure by Minute of the Board. While not accepting the description in these questions of the action taken by the present Board, they are satisfied that what they have done has been perfectly regular, as well as just. To the third question I have to answer Yes; it is so stated in the Admiralty Minute. The Board of Admiralty allege nothing of the kind stated in the fourth question. They simply take the opportunity to call the attention of the Fleet to the Circular Letter, and to the instructions, with a view to doing all in the power of the Admiralty to avert further mishaps.


I beg to give notice that I will call attention to the Admiralty Minute when the Navy Estimates are under discussion.