HL Deb 27 March 1876 vol 228 cc599-600

rose to call attention to some circumstances connected with the apprehension, trial, and acquittal of Police Constable Maconachie, of the Roxburghshire Constabulary, on a charge of the culpable homicide of John Melville last autumn; and asked for the production of Papers bearing on the subject. The noble Earl, having read the facts of the case and the proceedings before the Court, said, there were some matters in the proceedings which required to be cleared up, and he hoped there would be no objection to give such information as was in the possession of the Government.


had no doubt the noble Earl was perfectly accurate in his description of the present state of the law; but that was a subject he was not himself qualified to discuss. It did not appear from the noble Earl's statement that any undue delay had occurred in carrying out the investigation of the charge. The inquiry took place in the usual manner by the Procurator Fiscal, and his report was sent to the Crown counsel in Edinburgh, who also thoroughly investigated the matter. The case was sent for trial, and the accused was unanimously acquitted by the jury; the learned judge remarking that the Procurator Fiscal had acted in every respect in a most proper and becoming manner, and the authorities were perfectly satisfied with the result. The noble Earl had stated the well-known fact that the proceedings before the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland were different from those before the Coroner in England, inasmuch as the latter were open and public, while the former were secret. Which was the better system he should not stop to inquire; but as the reports of the Procurator Fiscal were private and confidential documents, their production would be irregular, unusual, and very inconvenient. The notes of the Judge who presided at the trial were public documents, and could be produced; but he doubted whether any good would result from their production.