HC Deb 23 July 1900 vol 86 cc883-4

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether any and what reply has been given to the application on behalf of Major Johnson and the other Donegal Justices to be allowed their expenses in reference to the recent unsuccessful application to attach them; whether he is aware that Chief Baron Palles, in refusing to make the conditional order absolute, stated he regretted he had no power to award costs to the justices, and that he was shocked at the action of Mr. Mackey, the Crown solicitor, who, in order to obtain a conditional order for attachment against the justices, suppressed the fact that the mandamus had been complied with, and pretended that no case had been stated; is he aware that the justices handed him the case at petty sessions, which he declined to take; and they then sent him the case by registered letter, which he refused to lodge; that he detatched a portion of the case thus sent him and affixed it to another document signed by a minority of the justices, and lodged the joint product as if it were a genuine case stated; that the judge of the Queen's Bench to whom the case was finally sent decided that the case originally refused by Mr. Mackey was a good case, and dismissed the attachment on the ground that the mandamus had been complied with; and that the court then heard the appeal on the case, and upheld the decision of the justices; and whether, under these circumstances, the Crown will see fit to recoup to the justices the expenses incurred by them in successfully defending themselves.


A reply has been given to the solicitor's letter to the effect that, as all the costs referred to were incurred by reason of the fact that the justices illegally and improperly refused to state a case for the opinion of the Queen's Bench Division when required so to do, the Crown must refuse to pay them the costs. I believe the Chief Baron did state that he regretted he had no power to award costs to the justices. It is impossible within the proper limits of an answer to a question, to give an epitome of the facts of the intricate litigation referred to. I have read over several times the authorised shorthand notes of the judgment of the court, and do not find that it contains any censure on Mr. Mackey or any other Crown official. No reference is made in this judgment to the other statements contained in the question, but as far as I have been able to ascertain, most of them are without foundation, and others misrepresent the actual facts. I have been informed, however, that the Lord Chief Baron, speaking in ignorance necessarily of the ultimate course contemplated by the Executive should they have been successful in the litigation then at hearing, found some fault with the mode in which the case had been conducted by the counsel. Notwithstanding the observations of the Lord Chief Baron, I am quite prepared, should the occasion offer, to justify in this House the action of the Crown in every particular. The reply to the last paragraph is in the negative.