§ MR. T. J. HEALY (Wexford, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who was responsible for having the charge against James Pelan, of Gorey, of being drunk and disorderly on his own licensed premises amended into a charge of drunkenness; who was responsible for having this case heard in camera, and who supplied the original information that the case was heard in open Court, which was afterwards admitted to be untrue; whether he is aware of any other cases under the Licensing Acts being ever heard in camera, and where they were heard; why a distinction was made between Pelan's case and the cases of three other publicans which were tried in open Court on the same day; and whether he will direct an independent inquiry as to who supplied the erroneous information to him?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The accused, the owner of licensed premises, was summoned for an offence under the 18th section of the Licensing Act, 1872. His solicitor drew the attention of the Resident Magistrate to the great doubt 1494 which, he alleged, existed as to whether the accused could, in point of law, be convicted under that Section, and applied to the magistrate to amend the charge into that which could be clearly sustained, namely, drunkenness on licensed premises. He was not charged with being drunk and disorderly. The magistrate, with the consent of the police, complied with the request, and the amended charge being one of a nature he had jurisdiction to decide sitting but of Petty Sessions, and alone, proceeded to adjudicate upon it. All this took place in the Grand Jury Room, and only a few minutes before the Petty Sessions Court was opened. There was free access to this room, and no attempt was made to conceal the case from the public. The local police official who supplied the original report that the case had been heard in open Court and not in camera, explains that what he meant was that the case was not heard privately, and that he looked upon the Grand Jury Room with open doors and the public passing in and out as an open Court. His mistake was regrettable, but I am satisfied he had no intention to willfully mislead.