§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he wished to put a Question to the Secretary of State for the Colonies which required a few words of explanation to make it intelligible, and in order that he might be regular he intended to conclude with a Motion. There was at Sierra Leone some time ago a gentleman of colour, named Fitzjames, a very respectable man, who had been called to the bar by the Middle Temple, had been first Law Officer of the Crown at Sierra Leone, and had acted for a time as Governor. The Governor of Sierra Leone, entertaining some hostility towards this gentleman, had used means to get rid of him, and the Colonial Office had lent themselves to that unworthy proceeding. In a Return, which he had moved for, and which had been presented to that House relating to the matter, statements were made by a Dr. Bradshaw aspersing the character of two respectable inhabitants of Sierra Leone. In order to try the merits of the case these two gentlemen had instituted proceedings against Dr. Bradshaw, and to prove the libel they wanted the original documents containing the libellous statements. The originals were in the hands of the Government of Sierra Leone, and the copies in the hands of the Colonial Office here. He wished, therefore, to ask, Whether the right hon. Gentleman would order that these papers, the contents of which had been circulated by the House, should be really at the command of the persons who wished to try by a jury whether they had been libelled or not? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman might say that if the Court at Sierra Leone demanded these papers they would be given, but that without such a demand they would not. But he would impress on the right hon. Gentleman that a Judge at Sierra Leone was not in the independent position of a Judge at Westminster Hall, and would fear to do anything contrary to the wish of the Governor. He wished, therefore, to ask, whether the right hon. Gentleman will 2104 not send out peremptory orders that these documents shall be placed at the command of the party who brought the action? He would move that the House do now adjourn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that this question was one not of politics but of law. A reference was made by the Governor of Sierra Leone to the person named by the hon. and learned Member; and that reference having been answered, the answer was laid last year, with other papers, on the table of the House. In the course of the year the solicitor of another party applied to him, as Colonial Secretary, for an order for the production of the paper in question. He had fortified himself with the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, which was to the effect that the communication was privileged, and would not be called for by any court of law. He intended, therefore, to leave the question to the decision of the court of law, with whose province it was not for him to interfere. The hon. and learned Gentleman said the court of law at Sierra Leone was not fit to decide the matter, but he did not believe that. If it was not fit to decide that question, it was not fit to be a Court of Justice for the decision of any question.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.