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THE ACTION AGAINST MR. BRADLAUGH. On Monday the case of the Attorney-General v Bradlaugh was resumed in the Queen's Bench, before the Lord Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Grove, Baron Huddleston, and a special jury. It was an ex officio information by the Attorney- General against Mr. Bradlaugh, M.P. for Northamp- ton, to recover penalties, on the ground that he had voted in the House of Commons without having first taken the oath, in accordance with the statutes and also with the Standing Orders of the House. The case had been twice postponed, in consequence of the indisposition of the Lord Chief Justice. The Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General, and Mr. R. S. Wright were for the Crown, and Mr. Bradlaugh appeared in person. The Lord Chief Justice took his seat upon the bench at a quarter past eleven, and at once com- menced his summing up. He stated that the con- struction of the Acts of Parliament would be for their lordships to determine, and he was glad to say that they were unanimous in their opinion. The facts would be for the jury, and upon those facts, if material, their lordships would construe the acts. The two important questions would be, first, did the de- fendant take the oath within the meaning of the Act; and, second, was he capable of taking the oath. The 29 and 30 Vic., cap. 19, provided the form of the oath,. and Standing Order 66 stated that no debate or busi- ness should be interrupted by a member taking the oath. There was a conflict of evidence as to whether the Speaker was standing while Mr. Bradlaugh took the oath, Sir E. May stating one way and Mr. Labouchere another. There could be no doubt the defendant did not take the oath according to the ordinary practice. Sir Erskine May's evidence proved this. He pro- ceeded to read Sir Erskine May's evidence to the jury, and pointed out that he sat with his back to the Speaker, and that, he stated, the Speaker might have sat down for a moment. His lordship con- trasted this with Mr. Labouchere's statement, that the Speaker sat down while the defend- ant was taking the oath but his lordship said that the prosecution might have put this matter beyond doubt by calling the Speaker himself. This they had not done. In reading Mr. Bradlaugh's evi- dence before the Committee of the House of Commons the Lord Chief Justice remarked that it was noticeable that all crucial questions which would fix Mr. Bradlaugh to a belief in a Supreme Being he declined to answer. He might have refused to answer any question on the ground that the com- mittee had no right to pry into his religious belief. This he had not done, only refusing to answer those which were unfavourable. The only point on which their lordships differed was whether the fact that the defendant might have gone into the box and proved his belief beyond doubt, ought to be left to the jury. Lord Coleridge and Baron Huddleston thought it ought, and Mr. Justice Grove that it ought not. His lordship then put certain questions to the jury, and asked them to consider their verdict. The jury retired at about half-past two o'clock. After an absence from the box of two hours and 35 minutes the jury returned into court, and the learned judges having taken their seats on the bench, the foreman handed in the written answers to the ques- tions put to them, and which were read out by the Lord Chief Justice: 1. Was the Speaker in front of the chair or sitting in the chair at the time when the defendant made and subscribed the oath ? Answer: Sitting. 2. If you think that the Speaker was sitting, in point of fact was he sitting for the purpose of preparing and correcting notes that he was about to use in addressing the defendant: or if for any other purpose, can you say for what purpose ? Answer: Sitting for the purpose of preparing and correcting notes that he was about to use m addressing the defendant. 3. Had the Speaker resumed his seat; if he had resumed it for the purpose of allowing the defendant to make and subscribe the oath ? Answer: No. 4. Have the Crown satisfied you that upon the 11th of February, 1884, the defendant had no belief in a Supreme Being? Answer: We are unanimously agreed that on the 11th of February he had no belief in a Supreme Being. 5. Have the Crown satisfied you that the defendant on the 11th of February, 1884, was a person upon whose conscience an oath would have no binding force ? Answer: Yes, we are satisfied. 6. Had the House of Commons full cogni- sance and notice of the matter by reason of the avowal of the defendant ? Answer: Yes. 7. Did the defendant take and subscribe the oatfi according to the full practice of Parliament ? Answer: Not according to the full practice. The Lord Chief Justice On these findings we direct judgment to be entered for the Crown. Mr. Bradlaugh said he had to ask for a stay of execution until the fourth day after the Long Vaca- tion, in order that he might move to enter judgment for the defendant non obstante verdicto. Mr. Judge Grove A motion for arrest of judgment is generally made before the judge who tries the cause, even though a single judge. This is a trial at bar, and I presume the practice is the same. Mr. Bradlaugh: I assure your lordships my object is not delay, but I stated the fourth day of sitting after the Long Vacation, as that was the practice under the old system. The Attorney-General: Might I suggest, my lords, that you might permit Mr. Bradlaugh to move now pro forma in arrest of judgment, and allow him to resume his argument after the Long Vacation. Mr. Bradlaugh was quite contented that this course should be taken, and it was adopted, it being pre- sumed that Mr. Bradlaugh had formally made his motion, when it was adjourned. Judgment was then entered for the Crown.




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-----------A DULL SEASON.