HC Deb 18 June 1918 vol 107 cc169-70

asked the Home Secretary whether a woman named Alice M. Cowley, of Stony Stratford, was charged on 8th May at Newport Pagnell with an offence under Regulation 40D of the Defence of the Realm Act, and that, upon her solicitor stating that there was no case for him to answer, the superintendent of the police said that under the Order the onus of proof was thrown on the defence; whether any instructions have been issued to the police to this effect; and whether he will issue instructions that, when a woman is charged under this Regulation, proof of the fact that she is suffering from venereal disease must be adduced by the prosecution in order to obtain a conviction?


I find on inquiry that the facts are as stated. The superintendent of police appears to have misread one of the Defence of the Realm Regulations, and to have made the statement attributed to him; but his mistake did not affect the decision of the justices, who, after hearing the defence, dismissed the charge. I do not think the Home Secretary could issue instructions to magistrates as to what evidence they may take, nor does there seem to have been any need for them in this instance.