§ MR. JORDAN (Fermanagh, S.)
I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General for Ireland what official or department is responsible for authorising the statement of a case from the Lisbellaw Petty Sessions, in the matter of Inspector Murnane v. the Justices of Fermanagh, heard recently in the King's Bench, Dublin; whether he is aware that the Lord Chief Justice, when delivering judgment, stated that the matter before them was in itself of little or no importance; and if he will state 1723 the cost incurred by the Grown for witnesses and lawyers in this case.
§ THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON, Londonderry, N.)
The police were directed by the Executive to apply to have a case seated. I decline to state the names of the several officials before whom the matter came. The point involved in the case was most important, namely, whether, in the case of the sale of drink to a person who was at the time in fact drunk, knowledge of his condition on the part of the vendor was necessary to constitute an offence under the statute. The Court decided, according to the contention of the Crown, that such knowledge was not necessary. What the Chief Justice said was, that "it was really of very little importance what became of the particular case, but that it was of grave importance to the administration of the law that the point should be understood, and that it should be declared that it was not of the essence of the offence that the impeached publican should have knowledge of the state of the man who was alleged to have been drunk." A very grave charge, amounting in effect to collusion and conspiracy, was made against the police by the defendant, supported by the affidavit of the hon. Member, who was one of the presiding justices, and by the affidavits of others. It was therefore necessary to summon these persons to Dublin for examination if required. The Court decided that there was no foundation for this charge. The entire costs incurred in the case amounted to £45 9s.
§ MR. JORDAN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I refused to sign a case because I thought it was vexatious litigation.
§ MR. ATKINSON
The hon. Gentleman made an affidavit and desired to be cross-examined on it, but it was not thought necessary.