HC Deb 12 March 1903 vol 119 cc581-3

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General whether, in view of Mr. Justice Buckley's decision to direct the Official Receiver, as liquidator of the London and Globe Finance Corporation, to institute proceedings against Mr. Whitaker Wright at the expense of the creditors on the ground that a prima facie case of fraud has been shown, he will now reconsider his decision not to direct the Public Prosecutor to institute the necessary proceedings at the public expense.

MR. NORMAN (Wolverhampton, S.)

May I at the same time ask the Attorney-General whether, in view of Mr. Justice Buckley's decision, he still proposes to introduce new legislation to facilitate the prosecution of persons charged with the publication of a fraudulent balance-sheet.


The answer to the Question of my hon. friend is in the negative. I think the control of these proceedings should remain in the hands of the Official Receiver and of the solicitors and counsel instructed by him. The Government will, of course, take all steps that will be necessary for the purpose of bringing the accused back. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, I think an amendment of the law in this matter is wanted. A Bill is being drafted, and I trust I shall be in a position at an early period to introduce it.


I beg to ask the Home Secretary, in accordance with notice which I have given privately, why directions were not given, in accordance with practice, to the police to watch the movements of Mr. Whitaker Wright immediately after the preliminary steps; had been taken for the institution of criminal proceedings against him, for the purpose of guarding against any evasion of justice on his part. Why was Mr. Whitaker Wright permitted to leave the country without any attempt by the police to obtain information as to his destination?


The private notice of the hon. Member I found when I came to the House just now, I do not think this is a Question which should be asked without notice. The question of the directions given in this case and the knowledge of the police in search of a fugitive are certainly not matters which can be made public in the interests of justice at the present moment. I am prepared to tell the House what I know, but I cannot prejudice the interests of justice by giving answers likely to defeat the very object we have in view. I stated last night that a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Whitaker Wright was granted at the Guildhall Police-court yesterday morning. It is now in the hands of the City Police for execution. The Metropolitan Police are cooperating with the City Police, and I have satisfied myself that all possible steps have been taken by the two forces to effect arrest. I would repeat that the Government will use every means to that end. The police inform me that Mr. Whitaker Wright has not been at his home since 21st February. The judgment of Mr. Justice Buckley was not given until 10th March, and the prosecution did not apply for a warrant till 11th March.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, after the statement made by the Attorney General that there was no case against him, Mr. Whitaker Wright said, "I think I will go away to Egypt for a time?"