§ 34. Mr. LANSBURY
asked the Home Secretary whether he is now able to state the result of his further inquiry into the causes leading to the disturbance in Hyde Park on Sunday last; how many persons were charged in connection with the disturbance; what was the nature of their offence and the sentences inflicted; and whether, in view of the discrepancy between the statements made by the police and the general public, he will order an investigation to be made into the previous characters of the persons charged in order that material may be available for reviewing the sentences?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Commissioner of Police has investigated the matter and has furnished me with a report. It appears quite clear that the disturbance originated in a remark made by a person present at the meeting which was resented by those around him. Two witnesses heard the words, "Three cheers for Lord Devon-port" shouted, but it is not definitely established that these were the words used by the person in question. At all events, it became necessary for the police to protect this person from violence and to remove him under escort from the park. The police were then attacked by the angry-crowd and had to make several arrests, and when they reached the Grosvenor Gate, they closed it to prevent the disorderly crowd following them. There can be no doubt that the closing of the gate prevented serious disturbance in the street. Eight persons were charged with offences, and seven of these were convicted. Three of them were convicted of assaulting the police and sentenced respectively to two months' hard labour; one month in the second division; and a fine of 30s. or fifteen days in the second division. One was convicted of kicking a police horse and sentenced to 30s. or fifteen days in the second division. Two were convicted of insulting behaviour and sentenced to fines of 12s. (with eight days in default), and 10s. 6d. respectively. One person who attempted to rescue a prisoner was bound over in his own recognisances of 40s. The magistrate had the whole evidence before him, and if 664 there had been any material discrepancies, he would, of course, have given the accused the benefit of any doubt arising therefrom. No investigation into the previous character of the defendants appears to be necessary. The magistrate in passing sentence obviously gave full consideration to any circumstances favourable to the defendants, and would necessarily treat them as persons of previous good character when, as in this case, there was no evidence to the contrary.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Is it not a fact that most of these persons who have been sentenced are under the age of twenty-one, and that one of the men who were bound over had his wife with him at the time he was supposed to be helping in the rescue of prisoners; and considering the fact that Members of this House who were present take a different view from that stated by the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, and on another occasion, will he not allow some evidence to be given before some impartial tribunal on the matter? I can assure him there is very great feeling in the matter?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I have no information upon either of the points raised by my hon. Friend, but I will certainly inquire into them. So far as I can gather, full evidence was called at the Court.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Is it not a fact that these men were arrested on the Sunday and put on their trial on Monday morning, so that there was positively no chance of calling witnesses or doing anything. I do not think that any of the men were represented by a solicitor, and the whole of the evidence upon which they were convicted was police evidence.