HC Deb 23 June 1902 vol 109 cc1386-8
Mr. ROCHE (Galway, E.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that Mr. William Hastings, editor of the Western News, Ballinasloe, was prosecuted this month under the Act of Edward III. on the charge of inciting certain persons to intimidate other persons; that no witness was produced to prove that any person had been incited or intimidated, or that any one had read the articles; whether he is aware that the articles on which the prosecution was based treated of the grazing question without reference to any persons, and that the case was heard by a Bench of nine magistrates, consisting of landlords and graziers, and two resident magistrates; and, seeing that the Bench stopped the Crown Prosecutor without hearing the accused, and intimated that they had made up their minds to convict, and that the Crown Prosecutor offered no comment, and that the Chairman pronounced a sentence of six months imprisonment in default of bail, he will recommend the Lord Lieutenant to exercise his prerogative and quash the conviction; and will he state what passages in the articles written by the accused were complained of by the Crown.


The particulars set forth in this Question are inaccurate. Mr. Hastings was not convicted of any offence, but, having for months published articles directly inciting to the boycotting and intimidation of persons in the neighbourhood, he was required to enter into recognisances to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. The accused was fully heard. He duly entered into recognisances and is now at large. There was only one dissentient on the Bench consisting of nine magistrates. I am not aware what pursuits may be followed by seven of them. They seem to have acted properly. There is no conviction to quash.


Will the right hon. Gentleman state what passages in the articles were complained of?


Those directly inciting to boycotting.


Who instigated the prosecution?


May I point out that no particular paragraphs were specified? That is what I want to find out.


I do not see how that is relevant to the Question. The accused entered into recognisances, and there the matter ends.


But surely a defendant is entitled to know what is charged against him.


Order, order!