HC Deb 13 March 1894 vol 22 cc144-6
SIR L. LYELL (Orkney and Shetland)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether his attention has been directed to a recent case of trawling near Stromness, in Orkney, in which the trawler Ceylon of Grimsby, Blackburn master, was seen by several witnesses trawling within the three mile limit on the 26th of December last; whether it is true that a prosecution was instituted and Blackburn cited to appear in Aberdeen, but that he was liberated without caution, and that since then the prosecution has been abandoned by advice of Crown Counsel; whether it is true that in the same case Blackburn was cited to appear at Kirkwall for not showing lights on his vessel when moving in inland waters, and whether the prosecution in this case was not also with- drawn; and for what reasons did the Crown Counsel advise the withdrawal of the prosecution in each of the above cases?

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR,) Clackmannan, &c.

When the proceeding first mentioned in the question was raised, it was not known that Blackburn had a residence in Scotland, and consequently a warrant was granted for his apprehension upon his appearing at a Scotch port. Upon this warrant he was sometime after apprehended at Aberdeen, and apparently lodged in prison there. He then presented to the Court of Justiciary a Bill of Suspension and Liberation, and upon that application a warrant for his interim liberation was granted by one of (he Judges of that Court. It was stated in his application, and appears to have been the fact, that he had a residence in Aberdeen, and if this had been known he would have been cited to appear for trial and not apprehended. The proceeding second mentioned was instituted about two months after the date of the alleged offence, which was said to have been committed on the same occasion as that charged in the first proceeding, and it was represented on the part of Blackburn that this delay would place him at a serious disadvantage in conducting his defence, as his crew were scattered. Seeing that a harsher step—namely, that of apprehension, had been adopted against Blackburn than would have been taken if it had been known that he had a residence in Aberdeen, and looking to the prejudice which it was alleged that he would suffer from the delay in instituting the second proceeding, it was thought by Crown Counsel better net to carry the case further. There is, however, every intention to enforce strictly the law against illegal trawling.


Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been directed to the very strong language used by the Sheriff' Substitute on this occasion? He said there had been an open and impudent violation of the law. Did he not give expression to his strong dissent relative to the action of the Crown Counsel? May I further ask whether, in view of this statement by a responsible Judge, my right hon. Friend will take steps to have the man tried for the alleged offence in due legal form?


I saw a report that the Sheriff Substitute had used some such expressions, but whether he was then aware of the whole circumstances of the case and of the action of the High Court, of Justiciary I cannot say.