HL Deb 26 February 1858 vol 149 cc1-2

said, he wished to correct a mistake into which he had fallen the other evening, on the debate on the law of Aliens, with respect to the case of Azzopardi. That case came under the consideration of all the Judges; it was argued at great length, and they pronounced a unanimous decision, confirming the conviction. It had been generally supposed that the prisoner was executed, and he had himself been led into that error. He had since ascertained that the sentence of death was commuted into a sentence of transportation for life. He had received a letter upon the subject in these terms:— You are reported to have said in the House of Lords on Monday, that Azzopardi was executed, and such, I believe, is the prevailing notion. The fact is, that his sentence was commuted by Sir James Graham to transportation for life, and he was actually shipped off for Norfolk Island by the Maitland transport ship on the 26th of August, 1843. The commutation was granted upon the recommendation of Baron Gurney, who tried him, and did not proceed upon any doubt as to the correctness of the decision of the Judges, but upon the ground that, as he might have been tried at Malta, where he and the principal witnesses against him were well known, and where he could more easily have procured the means of defence, the bringing him to England for trial might have operated to his prejudice. Perhaps you will take an opportunity of correcting this misapprehension, which is of some importance, as it is now the fashion to say the ease was wrongly decided. He felt it his duty to take the first opportunity of setting the matter right. He had been misled by the general opinion that in point of fact the man had been executed.


said, be had no objection to the mercy which had been shown, but was wholly unable to comprehend the grounds upon which the commutation of the sentence had taken place. If it were right to commute the sentence in consequence of the accused having been tried here instead of at Malta, where he would have had a better opportunity of defending himself, that would be a reason, if a reason at all, against the sentence of transportation for life, and not merely for commuting sentence of death to a less punishment.