§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Dumbartonshire)
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland, with regard to the proceedings at the trial of Abraham Mitchell, re- 949 cently sentenced by Sheriff Lees, at Dumbarton, to 30 days' imprisonment, with hard labour, whether he is aware that Brown, the principal witness, admitted at the trial that he stole the book in question; that accordingly his evidence was stated by the Sheriff to be receivable only with suspicion; that Craig, the only other witness, was materially contradicted in other evidence; that this was also admitted by the Sheriff in giving judgment; and that, on the other hand, there was no proof that the book was of value, nor that Abraham Mitchell, the accused, was ever seen with the book, or ever directly or indirectly made use of the book to the detriment of his employers or for any other purpose; whether he is aware of the following facts—namely, that the competing firm, in whose interests it was suggested at the trial that the theft was committed, have extracted a public apology from Messrs. Stirling and Sons for that unfounded imputation, and that Mitchell had been in the firm's employment for 14 years, had occupied public positions in the locality, but had recently differed from their representatives there on public questions; why Brown, who admitted the theft, was not prosecuted for that crime; and whether, under the circumstances, he can see his way to allay the intense public dissatisfaction with the outcome of this prosecution by ordering the immediate release of Mitchell the accused?
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
In answer to my hon. and gallant Friend, I must reply that I cannot enter into a discussion of particular points of the evidence. The evidence, if believed by the Court, was in point of law sufficient, and no one who did not hear the evidence and see the witnesses is in a position to form a judgment on it as against the presiding Judge. I have read the correspondence between Messrs. Stirling & Sons and Messrs. Steiner & Co.; but Messrs. Stirling deny that they imputed anything to Messrs. Steiner. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend's statements as to Mr. Mitchell's antecedents are correct. The essence of the charge was that Brown, in taking the book, had acted under the impulse of Mitchell. I cannot go back on my former decision.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
This being a question of the credibility of evidence, 950 what remedy is there available for those who think that this man has been wrongfully convicted?
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
The time for a remedy has passed. There were three days during which the agent might have appealed on a question of law, but the opportunity was not taken advantage of. I am bound to say that in the course of the proceedings there were occasions on which the accused might have given explanations, but he failed to do so. I am afraid it is quite impossible for me to interfere in the matter.
§ MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.)
Was the prosecution instituted by the Procurator Fiscal on instructions from the Crown Authorities in Edinburgh?