HC Deb 30 July 1934 vol 292 cc2292-3

(by Private Notice) asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that on Friday, the 27th instant, two men named Slater and Oram were convicted and fined by the Magistrates at West Ham for obstructing the police at a meeting held on the previous day; that they applied three times for an adjournment, first of a week, then until 2 p.m. of the same day, and lastly of 10 minutes only for the purpose of obtaining legal aid and of getting into touch with witnesses who were outside the court, but each application was refused although the police were represented by counsel; and whether in the circumstances he will intervene to obtain for these men a re-hearing of the complaint or a remission of their fines?


From such inquiries as it has been possible to make in the time available, I understand that the facts regarding the applications for an adjournment are substantially as stated by my hon. and learned Friend. The two men in question had been charged with obstructing the police in the execution of their duty and had been on bail since before 2 o'clock the previous day. I have no authority to direct or secure a rehearing of the case; as regards the question of remitting the fines, I would point out that it is open to the defendants to appeal against the decision of the magistrates.


In view of that reply, I would ask my right hon. Friend whether it is not fortunately without precedent in this country that such limited applications for adjournment should be refused, especially in a case in which the police were represented by counsel; and may I ask, further, whether he could not exercise his powers under Section 37, Sub-section (1) of the Criminal Justice Administration Act of 1914 by lodging an appeal himself in order that it may be clear that justice is being done in this case?


I could not answer the last part of the question without due notice. I would point out that, as far as I understand it, the accused had an opportunity before two o'clock to get legal advice if they so desired, and, as far as I can see, no injustice has really been done in this case.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that these very poor men were holding a meeting on the same site as that on which an hon. Member of this House had held a meeting previously, and, without inquiring into the facts of the offence, as to which no opinion need be expressed, is it not unjust that they should not be granted even 10 minutes' adjournment?