HL Deb 25 July 1845 vol 82 cc1078-9
Lord Brougham

presented a petition from James Thomas Russell, of No. 37, Percy-street, Bedford-square, solicitor, complaining that two witnesses who had been examined before the Committee of their Lordships' House on Gaming, had given false and slanderous evidence against him, to the great detriment of his character, and of the characters of all those connected with him; and praying that, as he found it would be a breach of the privileges of their Lordships' House to bring an action at law against those parties, some opportunity might be afforded him of vindicating his character. As the Session was now so near its close, he would move that the petition do lie on the Table, with the intention of moving early in the ensuing Session that it be referred to a Select Committee.

The Lord Chancellor

said, he should be very ready to assist his noble and learned Friend in investigating this subject; but he wished to remind their Lordships that the Committee alluded to in the petition had sat last Session, and the petitioner had allowed the matter to lie over without taking any notice of it for a whole year, and until after this House had decided that it would not allow him to go to law. He thought their Lordships could draw a natural and almost necessary conclusion from that circumstance.

Lord Brougham

said, the petition stated that it was only on Saturday last that the petitioner first saw a copy of the evidence of which he complained.

The Lord Chancellor

But he does not state that he did not previously know of the evidence having been given.

Lord Brougham

said, the law allowed a party four years to bring his action, and he would humbly submit that their Lordships were not justified in not merely shutting out an aggrieved party from redress in a court of law, but also in refusing him any other relief.

Lord Campbell

said, he was inclined to think that Russell was the name of a person who had been subjected to a very rigorous cross-examination at the bar of their Lordships' House by his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) on the very subject alluded to in the petition. He would, however, strongly support the Motion of his noble and learned Friend for inquiry.

After a few words from Lords Brougham and Stradbroke,

The Earl of Wicklow

said, he thought, no matter what the character of an individual might be, the House had a right to give him an opportunity of clearing his character. In reply to what had fallen from his noble Friend on the Woolsack he wished to remark, that any delay to which the petitioner might have been a party should be calculated, not from the time that the Committee had made their Report, but from the period when, their Lordships having consented to give a copy of the Report to the Commons, the latter House had thought proper to sell and promulgate the libel which it contained.

The Lord Chancellor

said, he had no desire to oppose the Motion for inquiry, but he had merely wished to draw their Lordships' attention to a point of date.

Petition read, and ordered to lie on the Table.

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