HC Deb 06 April 1908 vol 187 cc932-3
MR. HERBERT (Buckinghamshire, Wycombe)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the meaning attached by His Majesty's Government to its acknowledged obligation to guarantee Dinizulu fair trial is that such trial shall be in accordance with the elementary principles of justice; whether evidence collected in Zululand by the Natal Government, which is the prosecutor, is being adduced against Dinizulu, while at the same time the Natal Government precludes the advisers of Dinizulu from all possibility of testing this evidence by cross-examination by prohibiting them from collecting any evidence in Zululand; and whether His Majesty's Government, in dealing with this matter, has appreciated the fact that evidence which is false or inaccurate may be relevant and admissible.


Dinizulu is not yet committed for trial, but the Natal Government have promised to give the defence the usual opportunities of obtaining evidence before the trial comes on. The English law of evidence has been applied to Natal by statute, and it will be for the Supreme Court of the Colony which will try the case to weigh the value of the evidence produced.


Would it not be open to the prosecution at the trial to refer witnesses to the depositions they have made at the preliminary examination, to caution them to be careful, and in effect to threaten them with prosecution for perjury if they do not swear up to the evidence in their depositions which it has been impossible to test by cross-examinations?


I could not say without notice what actually will be the procedure in the Supreme Court in Natal, but I think it fair to assume that it will be fully in accordance with the principles and traditions of justice, and if injustices or improprieties have been committed at the earlier stages of the proceedings, these injustices or improprieties will be to the advantage of the prisoner.

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, at the proceedings before the Supreme Court of Natal on the 2nd instant, Mr. Renaud, counsel for Dinizulu, applied for an interdict restraining the magistrate from continuing the preliminary examination and alleged grave irregularities, such as terrorising the witnesses and other scandalous conduct; and whether the Colonial Office authorities keep themselves fully informed as to the course of proceedings in the trial of this native chieftain.


The Secretary of State has as yet received no official information as to the proceedings mentioned. The Press telegram states that the Supreme Court has reserved judgment. The Governor is keeping the Secretary of State fully informed as to the course of the proceedings from time to time.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is an intense feeling in this House and in the country generally that Dinizulu should get a fair trial?


I am not only aware of it, but I share it very strongly myself.