HC Deb 03 December 1908 vol 197 cc1625-6

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the exclusion of the accredited representatives of the Press agencies and of the daily papers from the coroner's Court of St. Giles's, London, on the 21st ultimo, whether his attention has been called to the fact that one of those representatives was in Court before the coroner arrived and was requested to leave, and that the other representatives arrived before the inquest opened; whether he is aware that the Press box was almost empty; whether, in face of those statements, he has any further information as to why these Press representatives were excluded; whether he can explain why the written protest from the journalists was not at once delivered to the coroner; and whether the coroner's officer has been admonished.

MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home. Department, in reference to the exclusion of certain recognised Press representatives from the coroner's Court of St. Giles's, London, on the 21st ultimo, whether he has been made aware that the reporters who were excluded had not arrived late; that one of them at least was actually inside the Court when the coroner arrived, and was ordered out by the coroner's officer; that there Was no overcrowding in the Court, inasmuch as a solitary police inspector was occupying the Press box; in the light of this fresh evidence will he renew his inquiries into the matter of complaint; and will he take such measures as will insure the publicity, in conformity with immemorial usage, of coroners' quests.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) I beg leave to answer this and the next Question together. I have again -communicated with the coroner, and I learn from him that a gentleman who had entered the Court before the coroner had arrived was requested to leave until the Court was open. The coroner regrets that any representative of the Press should have been excluded, and assures me that such a thing has not happened before and is not likely to happen again. His officer states positively that he received no written communication, and that he was not aware of its existence. I do not think that the incident calls for any further action on my part. I have no authority to issue instructions to coroners in this matter, and it is clear from the coroner's statement that he is anxious to give full facilities for the presence of the Press in Court.