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ACTION FOR LIBEL.-DAMAGES…

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ACTION FOR LIBEL.-DAMAGES £ 1,000. In the Court cf Qieen's Bench, London, the caqe of Woodgafe v. R'deout has been tried, all d was an action to recover from the proprietor of the Morning Post damages in respect cf a libel in a I. aling article published in that paper. The defendant pleaded not guiity :â Mr. Bovill, Q.C. (whose voice was scarcely audible), was understood to say that the libel complained of appeared in the Morning Post of the 23rd of January, 1863. It was of a very serious character, as it affected the position and prospects of Mr. Woodgate, who had been represented as having fraudulently conspired with another person to obtain possession of certain property. The article imputed to him that he was a worthy member of the noted firm of Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, and that he, as a solicitor, had violated the con- fidence reposed in him by his clients. Mr. Woadgate had now been in practice as a solicitor for upwards of forty years, and being a member of one of the most respectable firms in the profession, had been entrusted with the conduct of the affairs of numerous noblemen and gentlemen. He was sprung from one of the oldest families in the county of Kent, and was originally intended for the bar, but eventuaily he became a partner in the well known and highly respectable firm of Messrs. Curry, Home, and Woodgate. In the course of his professional avocations he became con- nected with the Egmont family, and ultimately, through the recommendation of the Right Hon. Spencer Horatio Walpole, was appointed solicitor to the present Lord Egmont, who succeeded to the estates of the family in 1860. It was considered desirable to endeavour to recover back certain estates and posses- sions which had formerly belonged to the family. Under the will of the late earl, made in 1860, the present earl found himself deprived of the Irish estates which had been bequeathed to Sir Edward Tierney. Proceedings were taken to upset the will, and to regain possession of the property. The case was originally commenced in England, and a suit was also going on in Ireland. In this country the case was discussed before Vice-Chancellor Wood, and a trial also took place at the Cork Assizes in the summer of 1863, on which occasion the plaintiff's case having been concluded and the defendant's case opened, negotia- tions took place, which led to the following result: T< oAA^e est;a,"ei'> which were of the value of about h vr °r a year, were to go to Lord Egmont, who, however, on his part, agreed to pay a lar^e sum « ^0tl^ for improvements which had been effected, subsequently an Act of Parliapaent was obtained to give effect to the arrangement, and under that Act Ijord Egmont was now in possession of the estates. gentleman who acted for Lord Egmont was Mr, Woodgate, the plaintiff in the present action, and hi* exertions were crowned with success. During the progress of the suit any movement on the part of Mr. Woodgate, in regard to attacks which had been made 011 IJ8 c^aracter. was almost impossible, as no one could say what effect such a step might have on the ^resti of his clients. Mr. Woodgate therefore, ^ou,h suffering grievously from the imputations which had been cast upon him, abstained from taking any proceedings until the litigation was finally deter- mined in July last year. He then felt himself at liberty to seek for some satisfaction from those who had assailed him in the course of the litigation, and he consequently commenced the present action against the proprietor of the Morning Post in respect of an article which appeared in that newspaper, and which imputed to him that he w&s a worthy member of the firm of "Qairk, Gammon, and Snap," &c. The first part of the libel refered to this firm, and though it would not be necessary to travel over the whole of the incidents of 41 Ten Thousand a Year," he might be allowed to allude to some which related to the tirm in question. Mesa". Quirk, Gammon, and Snap were fabled in that novel as attorneys, who were impli- cated in endeavouring to obtain from the family of the Aubreys the estate of Yatton. The means said to have been adopted by them was to bring forward a fictitious heir, and to fabricate the evidence establish- ing his claim to the property. The scheme succeeded. They then disclosed ti Tittlebat Titmoue, the sham heir, the real state of affairs, and obtained from him an annuity of 2,0001. a year, and afterwards proposed to betray, their own client Titmouse to Mr. Aubrey for the sum of 2,000Z. The proceedings in the case of Egmont v. Darell" had been under discussion before Vice-Chancallor Wood for no less than nine days. The case had been closed on either side, and on the 22nd of January the Vice-Chancellor announced his determina- tion of reserving his judgment. Ou the 23rd, the fol. lowing day, the libel which formed the subject of the present proceedings appeared in the columns of the Morning Post. The learned counsel then read the article in extenso, and continued Now that article re- represented that Mr. Woodgate exceeded Quirk, Gam- mon, and Snap in rascality. It imputed to him that he made a claim of 1,300J., and that being repudiated, he conspired with Mr. Parkinson, the gentleman who drew up the disputed will, to wrest the property from the Darell family. It likewise imputed to him that- being the solicitor of Sir Edward Tierney, and after- wards of Sir Lionel Darell, he had ciscloeed informa- tion which had been communicated to him in his pro- fessional cipacry. The learned counsel then com- mented at considerable length on the evidence adduced in the case of Egmont v. Darell, and went on to re- mark that it was false to say that Mr. Woodgate was ever concerned as solicitor for Sir E. Tierney or Sir L. Darrell, nor did he at any time obtain from either of them any information which was brought forward in the Chancery proceedings. After some fur- ther comment on the details of tho article, the learned counsel concluded with an appeal for damages. The Right Hor. Spencer Horatio Walpole, Lord Egmont, and Mr. Woodgate, the plaintiff, were examinsd at great length in support of the plaintiff's case. The defendant did not call any witnesses. Mr. Bovill having summed up the evidence on the part of the plaintiff, K Mr. Lush addressed the jury for the defendant. He contended that whether or not the allegations con- tained in the article in the Morning Post were true was not at all material as regarded the present inquiry, for those allegations had at any rate been made in a court of justice, and the editor of a public journal had a perfect right to express his own opinion on a matter of public concern, in the shape of a fair comment on what had taken place in a court of Jaw. The idea that the article complained of had been written by anybody in the interest of the Darell family was pre- posterous and absurd. It was the production oi the ordinary contributors to the paper, and was written *â¢m information derived from the accounts of the Chancery proceedings, which had been published in the paper itself: and the writer was justified in making tne statements which he had done, as they were legiti- mate conclusions from the evidence in the case, and therefore this article was privileged, as being a fair comment on a. matter of public concern. It was the interest of every member of society to maintain the th i w^.c^> he was bound to say for the honour of Th r 8o'icitors rarely, very rarely, violated. 6 7^° j ^ifcf Justice then summed up, and the ] ury retired to consult together. On their return into court, at the expiration of a few minutes, they returned a verdict for the plaintiff, damages 1;000J,

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