HC Deb 17 December 1912 vol 45 cc1272-5
20 and 21. Mr. KELLAWAY

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India (1) if he is aware of the indignation which is felt in Burma and India at the conduct of Mr. Andrew, the magistrate at Mergui, who conducted the trial of a planter, Captain McCormick, charged with the rape and abduction of a native girl of about twelve years of age; whether he is aware that the mother of the child petitioned for the removal of the trial from Mr. Andrew's court on the ground of his known friendship for McCormick, but that, in spite of this appeal, Mr. Andrew persisted in hearing the case; that the mother appealed for a pleader on the ground that she was too poor to fee counsel; that this appeal was also refused, and the mother and child were unrepresented; if he is aware that the man employed by Mr. Andrew to interpret the evidence of the mother and child was a paid servant of Captain McCormick; that the chief witness for the abduction was sent to China before the trial could come on; that McCormick admitted detaining the child in his bungalow for three months, during which time he examined her and treated her for gonorrhԓa, justifying this conduct by the plea that he had bought her for thirty rupees; if he is aware that Mr. Andrew acquitted McCormick, and immediately afterwards entertained him; and whether the Secretary of State for India will at once order an inquiry into the conduct of the trial; and (2) if Mr. Channing Arnold is still in prison in Burma for having in his newspaper charged Mr. Andrews, the magistrate at Mergui, with having shown partiality in his conduct of the trial of Captain McCormick on a charge of abduction and rape; and whether he proposes to hold an inquiry into the facts of the case?

22 and 23. Mr. MORRELL

asked the Secretary of State for India (1) whether he is proposing to make an inquiry into the case of Mr. Channing Arnold, who was recently sentenced to a year's imprisonment in Burma for alleged defamation of an European magistrate; and, if so, when such inquiry will be held; and (2) whether he is aware that Mr. Channing Arnold is suffering seriously in health as a result of his imprisonment in Burma; and whether, in view of the public feeling that has been aroused with regard to this case throughout India and Burma and the doubts that exist as to the justice of the sentence, he will direct that Mr. Arnold should be released on bail pending a full inquiry?


It has been ascertained by telegraph that the statement that Mr. Arnold's health is suffering from imprisonment is incorrect. As regards the suggestion that Mr. Arnold should be released on bail pending the Privy Council hearing, and the proposal for an inquiry, I would refer hon. Members to the remarks I made on the Adjournment on 26th November, but I would add that the Secretary of State has since been in constant communication with the Government of India as to the best means of bringing the question of bail to a speedy decision. My Noble Friend has just learned that Mr. Arnold has not yet appealed to the Privy Council, but it is possible that he may do so. If there is to be no such appeal, the question of temporary release on bail will not arise, and the Secretary of State will consider, in consultation with the Government of India, the question of the severity of the sentence passed. But it is clearly impossible to go into the nature of the sentence so long as there is uncertainty whether the prisoner does or does not intend to appeal to the highest judicial tribunal against the correctness of his conviction.


May I ask my hon. Friend whether he has seen a letter in the "Manchester Guardian" to-day with reference to this question of an appeal to the Privy Council?


No, Sir, I have not yet seen it.


Can my hon. Friend say whether in the meantime it will be possible for Mr. Arnold to be supplied with food from outside the prison, and to have access to newspapers, seeing that if he had been tried and condemned in England for this offence he would have had that privilege?


I will make inquiry.

Sir J. D. REES

May I ask whether Mr. Arnold was not tried by the chief judge of the chief Court, of Burma and a jury, and found guilty of libelling a British magistrate in the exercise of his functions?


Yes, Sir, a full statement has been made on the subject.


Are these facts in the question admitted? The hon. Gentleman's answer did not say "Yes" or "No"


It is very difficult to give an answer as to the facts on a matter that is still sub judice. It is not at all certain that Mr. Arnold is going to appeal to the Privy Council, but if he is, it would be very improper to go into the matter now.


If he is not going to appeal, will the Government of India hold an inquiry into the case?


I have already said that if Mr. Arnold does not appeal, the Secretary of State will consider the question of remitting some part of the sentence.


Will the Government of India hold an inquiry into the conditions under which this man has been sentenced?


The hon. Gentleman should give notice of that question.