HC Deb 01 April 1909 vol 3 cc487-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the prosecution instituted by the Metropolitan Police against the driver of a motor-car, Arthur Joseph Adams, for reckless driving and manslaughter, in which the magistrate, Mr. Horace Smith, sitting at the Westminster Police Court on 27th March, found there was not sufficient evidence on either charge against the accused and ordered his discharge, and to the statement made by the solicitor representing the police that the evidence was rather weak, but that it was the intention of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to institute similar charges in every case against the driver of any motor-car which was involved in a fatal accident, irrespective of the circumstances and the finding of the coroner's jury; whether such decision had his own sanction; and whether he would state why such procedure should be confined solely to motor-car accident and should not be extended to fatal accidents occurring in connection with tramcars, horse-drawn and other types of vehicles, and why the driver of a motorcar alone was placed, in the case of a genuine accident, under the stigma of a criminal charge?

The HOME SECRETARY (Mr. Herbert Gladstone)

When a fatal accident due to a vehicle, whether drawn by horses or mechanically propelled, occurs, if there is evidence of negligence or of recklessness, or of speed which, having regard to the conditions of the highway at the time, was excessive, the Commissioner of Police considers that it is his duty to secure a magisterial inquiry. The solicitor representing the police in the case against Arthur Joseph Adams has been misreported. He did not state that charges would be instituted irrespective of the circumstances. The circumstances alone determine police action.