HL Deb 30 March 1835 vol 27 cc359-60
Lord Brougham

said, that seeing the noble Duke opposite in his place, he wished to ask a question. He had not the least doubt but that which he was about to mention had been misunderstood; but even then he was sure that the noble Duke would be well pleased to be asked the question, in order that he might correct the mistake. It had gone abroad, in consequence of a question asked, and indistinctly answered or heard, that a very lamentable mistake had occurred in Ireland in respect of the execution of a person in that country for murder. His attention had been called to it as connected with the administration of criminal justice as a Peer of that House, for they were all by their situation as Peers connected with the administration of justice. He had of course made some inquiry into it, and he had found that it was not as it had been stated, that some person had by mistake for another man, suffered the extreme sentence of the law; but then it was said that a mistake had been made with regard to identifying a man before one of the tribunals of the country, where the punishment of his crime was death in case of conviction. There was an immense difference between these two things. The mistake as to identifying a man was unhappily a mistake to which all human tribunals, deciding on human evidence, must be subject. He had understood that there had been some communication with Ireland on the subject, and he thought it material that the public should know that there had been no mistake in the execution of the law; but that if any mistake had been made, it was the supposed mistake upon the fact of the identification of a given person.

The Duke of Wellington

was understood to say that he had not any exact information on the subject, but he believed that the rumour as to the mistake was of itself quite erroneous.

Lord Plunkett

said, that he believed there had been some mistake in the first instance in identifying a person, but it certainly was not true that, by mistake, one man had been hanged for another. The rumour went to impeach the correctness of a verdict; if it was not correct, he trusted that such mistakes were not of ordinary occurrence.

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