HC Deb 16 March 1894 vol 22 cc433-4
SIR C. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether his attention has been called to a case tried under the Day Trespass Act at the Inverary Sheriff Court on the 23rd ultimo, in which five lads were charged with killing a rabbit on the property of Sir John Campbell Orde, and in which the charge was found not proven; whether he is aware that it transpired in evidence that Sir John Orde, as Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee of the County of Argyll, had instructed the Chief Constable of the county to obtain information through the police to prove the alleged offence, and that the Sheriff in his decision expressed his regret at the manner in which the police had interfered, and rejected their evidence; whether the action of the police in the case was contrary to the General Regulations affecting the Scottish police; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?

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

From the inquiry which I have made, it appears that the statements in the second paragraph of the question are scarcely accurate. Sir John Orde himself had no communication with the police. His son found the accused on the ground, and, without instructions from or communication with his father, immediately went to the police station, and handed the Chief Constable a list of their names, as given to him by them. The Chief Constable then sent a constable to Ardrishaig to verify their names, and he met and ascertained from the accused themselves what their names and designations were. The Sheriff informs me that he felt it to be his duty to reject the police constable's evidence, because he had acted wrongly in interrogating the accused without warning them that what they said might be used in evidence against them. The duty of a constable nude the Day Trespass Act, as defined in the Regulations issued to the Argyllshire Constabulary, is stated to consist— In merely reporting any contravention of the Statute which he sees, or which may come to his knowledge, to the proprietor or lessee of the game on the lands trespassed upon during the day in search or pursuit of game, and this duty appears to have been exceeded in this case. I hope that the Standing Joint Committee will see that the Regulations are strictly observed in future.