HC Deb 25 February 1901 vol 89 cc1044-5

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate if his attention has been drawn to a case tried in the Innerleithen Police Court recently, where two bailiffs in the employment of the Tweed Commissioners were convicted of an aggravated assault upon Mr. Anderson, farmer, Pirn, Innerleithen, while he was walking through one of the fields upon his farm in pursuit of his calling; whether he is aware that these two bailiffs, while in a state of intoxication, charged Mr. Anderson, who is between 70 and 80 years of age, with poaching salmon in the Tweed, put a cleek into his pocket to support their charge against him, and told him, although he gave them his name and address, that he must go to the police office with them, and although Mr. Anderson promptly offered to accompany them to the police office insisted upon putting handcuff's upon him and dragged him through the High Street of Innerleithen to the police office; and whether he will make representations to the Tweed Commissioners to make strict inquiries as to the character of the men they employ as bailiff's, who while on duty are armed with practically all the powers of a police constable.


I have made inquiry into the regrettable circumstances mentioned by my hon. friend. The statements contained in the first and second paragraphs of the question are not, however, accurate in all particulars. The two bailiffs were charged with assault, but the magistrates while finding that both were intoxicated at the time of the assault convicted in one case only. Also it would not be proper that I should express an opinion as to the accuracy of the assertion in the question that those bailiffs "put a cleek into his (Mr. Anderson's) pocket to support their charge against him." No decision on this point was arrived at by the magistrates, who indeed refused to hear evidence for the defence in regard to it. I have satisfied myself that due care and diligence was used in the appointment of these two bailiffs. They came with good characters from their previous employment and were personally interviewed by trusted servants of the Commissioners. The men were dismissed from the service by the superintendent as soon as the facts were brought to his notice. I am disposed to think, however, that where possible it should be arranged that any two bailiffs appointed to work a strange beat on the river should not both be first-season men as in this case they were.