HC Deb 25 January 1897 vol 45 cc401-3
MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether his attention has been directed to the proceedings at the late Winter Assizes in Cork; whether he is aware that in the agrarian case known as the Clonbanin case no less than 31 jurors were ordered by the Counsel for the Crown to stand by, also that in ordinary criminal cases as many as 24, 19, and 17 jurors, respectively were similarly treated; and whether in these cases the Crown Counsel acted by the instructions or with the sanction of the learned Attorney General?


I have up to this been unable to identify the cases in which it is alleged 19 and 17 jurors respectively were ordered by the Crown to stand aside. In reference to the two other cases, in the first of which the charge was for attacking the dwelling-house of the caretaker of an evicted farm, and in the second for a serious assault on the police, one of whom has, I fear, been thereby permanently injured, the Crown Solicitor reports to me that in directing jurors to stand aside to the numbers mentioned in the question, he acted in strict accordance with the directions contained in the Circular dated the 12th February, 1894, addressed to Crown Solicitors of Ireland during the time of the late Government, and that no juror was ordered to stand aside on the ground of his religion or politics, but simply because in the judgment of the Crown Solicitor, there was reason to believe the juror would not give an impartial verdict. The fact that in each case the accused, several in number, were members of the farming class, having extensive connections in the county, may account for the large number of challenges in each case. No special directions were given by me in either of these cases.


asked whether, as these were city jurors and had no connection with the locality, he was to understand that the right hon. Gentleman gave his support to the system of jury packing?


inquired whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the practice of ordering a juror to stand back was absolutely unknown in the English criminal courts?


Order, order! That does not arise out of the question. The hon. Member proposes to ask a general question about the practice in England.


asked whether in this case the Crown Counsel acted by instructions of the right hon. Gentleman?


I have already said that the Crown Solicitor acted in strict accordance with the general directions contained in the circular, and that no special directions were given by me in any of these cases.


gave notice that he would call attention to these cases on the Estimates.