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MR JOHN MORLEY AT BEDFORD.

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LIBERAL ORGANISATION AT NEWPORT.

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BREWERS AND TEETOTALERS.

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THE LIBERATION SOCIETY.

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LIBELLING A CARDIFF MINISTER.

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LIBELLING A CARDIFF MINISTER. THE "WESTERN MAIL" AND THE REV GARMON ROBERTS. MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL. APPLICATION DISMISSED WITH COSTS In the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court" of Justice on Wednesday — before Mr Barou Pollock and Mr Justice Manisty-the libel action of Roberts v, Daniel Owen and Company, Limited, proprietors of the Western Mail, Cardiff, in which plaintiff bad been awarded £2,OCO damages, came on for hearing by way of a motion for a new trial. Mr Lockwood, Q.C., and Mr Abel Thomas represented the plaintiff, and Mr Finlay, Q C., and Mr A. T. Lawrence appeared for the defendants, Mr Finlay said this was an application on behalf of the defendants for a new trial on the ground that the damages were excessive. The libels consisted of a series of letters and some articles in the Western Mail, a newspaper pub- lished in Cardiff, and related to a charge which had been made against the plaintiff by a servant, formerly in bis employment, that he was the father of her illegitimate childt — The jury found in favour of the plamtiff, and thereby negatived the plea of justification that the chaige was true. The girl was called and repeated the relations which she said bad existed between herself and the plaintiff. Mr Roberts denied the story, and the jury accepted bis denial. The defendants did not in any way ask their lordships to reverse the finding of the jury. They accepted their finding as final, but what they did ask the court to say was this— that the damages were out of all proportion to the injury sustained by the plaintiff through the libels of which be complained. Baron Pollock: What were tha damaKes ? Mr Finlay replied £2,000. Tho girl took affiliation proceedings against the plaintiff, which were beard on the 28th of March, 1838. Sho gave her evidence before the magis- trates, and the proceedings were reported at length in the newspapers the following day. In those reports the story told by this young woman was set out in the words she had used when she told her story. At the conclusion of her evidence the bench of magistrates gave their decision in these words. The Stipendiary said: We dismiss this case on the ground that, there is no corroborative evidence." So the affiliation prooeedings came to an end, but the pro- ceedings were reported in the newspapers, and whatever injury the articles did plaintiff, it must necessarily be small as compared with these reports. Mr Baron Pollock Do you complain of the attitude of the learned judge in this case—of his summing up, for instance Mr Finlay said he did not. His Lordship left it to the jury to say which they believed—the man or the woman, and he pointed out the danger of accepting the un- corroborated statements of a woman in a case of this bind. No complaint was made of bis lordship's remarks, but the defendants did complain that the damages were far too high. The learned counsel said he would read all the letters and articles. Mr Lockwood hoped their lordship3 would see the papers, and not hear merely what was written. lIe wanted them to see the position in the paper in which the articles were placed, the type in which they appeared, and the whole publicity given to the announcements from time to time. Mr J ustice Manisty asked if tbe papers were in court Mr Lockwood said he bad some. He had applied for others, but could not obtain tbem from the newspaper office. Mr Fmlay read the series of letters and articles which were complained of as constituting the libels. The court then adjourned for luncheon. Mr Finlay, continuing his argument after the court re-assembled, said three of the letters inserted in the paper on this case were sigaed by the writers' names, viz., Mr Richard Evans, Mr Daniel Owen, and Mr Rees Enoch, oue ot the guardians. Others were signed by such words as "Honour and Action and it was suggested, as an aggravation against the defendants, that these letters were written in the office. The idea, however, was entirely dissipated by the evidence of Mr James Harris, the assistant-editor of the paper, who swore that the letters eigne in that way were genuine. He was not going to trouble their lordships to go through ail the evidence. All that would have to be looked into was that which bore on the damage sustained by the plaintiff, aud the best way of ascertaining that was to look at his evidence. Mr Justica Manisty What was the defence? Mr Finlay said the defence substantially was a justification that the words written were trud in their ordinary and natural meaning. Upon all the materials before the court he did submit to their lordships that the damages were altogether extravagant. This gentleman, Mr Roberts, was iu receipt of a salary of JB156 per auuum for his duties as the clergyman ct a congregation at Cardiff. Even if it be taken that the plaintiff's giving up bis situation was the result of these articles and letters in thedefendants' newspaper, and not of the atE: iation proceedings, which might be a matter of doubt— even if it be taken that it was purely owing to the articles that he had to give up his. situation, £2,000, he contended, was absurd compensation for the loss of that position. What the jury had done was this—they heard the story told by the girl, they heard the story told by the plaintiff, they really had given plaintiff damages in respect of the charge I made by the youug woman. Surely such a verdict ought not to be allowed to stand, aud be asked their lordships to send the case down for a new trial. Mr Lockwood (for the plaintiff), in opposition to a new trial, said that owing to the action of the defendants' paper Mr Roberts had been obliged to give up the chapel in which he bad officiated in Cardiff, and had riot been able to re- turn to the chapel. Ie was difficult to imagine a more vindictive series of terrible libels than those which this paper had thought 6t to level against the plaiutiff. Up to the time of this attack on him Mr Roberta's character was good, and his repotatiou stood high. Ou the 7th of February, five days after the child was born, and before any proceedings of any sort or kind had been taken with a view to atfiiliate the child upon the plaintiff, the attacks were made on him, and it was idle for his learned friend to try and get rid of the verdict by suggesting that the jury were awarding plaintiff damages for what tbe girl had said about him at the affiliation proceedings. It was persisted throughout the trial that every word of this libel could be justified on the ground that it was true. The trial took place last October. From the month of February, 1888. until the v. rdict of the jury cleared the plaintiff from a charge for which there was not a tittle cf foundation Mr Roberts had to suffer under this accusation, that he had debauched a young woman, who was practically a child iu his house as a servant, and therefore under his protection. This was the charge made against plaintiff, who was the minister of a Nonconformist denomination. Under such circumstances was there anything excessive in the damages the jury had awarded ? It had been said that all the letters written on this subject were genuine, although not the whole of them signed by tbe writers' names. My learned friend pro- ceeded Mr Lockwood, says somo person was called in the office to prove these were bona-fide letters to the editor. But no person was called who had written tbem, and what was more extraordinary was that they declined to call Mr Carr, who, I believe, is the manager of the paper. Mr Carr wrote a letter on March 31st, in answer to a letter from plaint:ff's solicitor, in which he says that neither specifically nor inferentially can the articles be said to refer to Mr Roberts. That letter is an absolute falsehood, and nothing else, on the part of Mr Carr, who was in court, but who was called away on important business to Cardiff." Mr Finlay The business was a municipal election in which he was a candidate, and you said you sympathised with him. Mr Lockwood: As I should sympathise with any parson who was a candidate at any election (laughter)—but what I am particularly anxious to bring before your lordships is that Mr Carr told a deliberate falsehood when he penned that letter of February 8th. Continuing, the learned counsel said tbat somo of these letters "were written under the name of Charity," but he ventured to say that the name of Charity was never so prostituted in any case as it bad been in this belralf, because, although the whole correspon- dence was published ostensibly under the plea of charily, the letters were inserted in the paper to perpetuate the injury which bad been done to the plaintiff. One of the letters was signed by Daniel Owen. J.P., one of the largest shareholders ia the company which owned the Western Mail. These libels were so bad and were so widely published tbat there was not a district in Wales to which Mr Roberts could go without the chafges being rememberod against him. That bemg 80, what money could compensate ME: Roberts for being 80 attacked ? He did not deny that the people of Cardiff bad the right to assist the young woman who had had this child. In aiding them in tho assistance, the defendants had no right to make a series of vindictive attacks upon Mr Roberts. No doubt there were hundreds of people in this district of Cardiff who having had their feelings excited against this man, bad formed a strong opinion against him, and still held to the opinion, although he had done everything he could to meet these charges. The jury, therefore, felt probably tbat the matter would not stop with their verrfict, and hence they had assessed the damages at £2;000, because they knew that Mr Roberts, as long as he lived, would continue to buffer from these charges. The learned judge who tried the case did not appsau to be dissatisfied with the verdict, and he asked their lordships to say whether, in view of libels of this nature initiated by the defendants. it could be supposed there was anything unreasonable in the conduct of tbe jury in award. ing Mr Roberts damages to the extent of £2,000 ? Mr Finlay, replying for the defendants, said Mr Lockwood had shown much warmth in his advocacy of bis client's cause, but beyond this had stated nothing to justify the jury in awarding tbe plaintiff such extravagant damages, Mr Justice Manisty said there was one thing which bad struck bim iu this matter. Along with nearly the whole of the articles was this statement, c. Sa., report of affiliation proceedings Western Mail, 29th of March, 1SSa." A newspaper migntonce report such proceedings, but might thijy go on week after week and day after day referring to that report—in fact, re- publishing the proceedings? Mr Finlay said the damage done from that causo was very slight, because files of the Western Mail containing reports of the affiliation proceed- ings could be procured. All the damage which Mr Roberts had sustained would be covered by a much less sum than £2,000. THE JUDGMENT. Baron Pollock, in giving judgment, said the only question for them to determine was whether tue, jury had awarded such excessive damages as to induce the court to interfere. The court did not interfere with the verdict of juries in cases of libel and slander unless it could be shown that the jury had acted either vindictively or what was called sometimes perversely. It had not been suggested that the jury in this caso had acted in either of these ways. The plaintiff hal been charged with seducing his servant girl, under circumstances which, if true, would have been of the most scandalous character, and bis conduct had been held up to public scorn aud contempt, and having quoted-various expressions from the libels, his lordship said they did not stop short of speaking of tbe plaintiff in the most insulting terms, and it was said tbat the rev. gentleman and not the parish should pay for the girl's offspring. It was now assumed by this paper that they had taken a fair and calm judicial position. But this was not the language which should be used after the inquiry and after the decision. He thought, therefore, the jury were perfectly entitled to consider, in the first place, the actual damage suffered, and, secondly, the fair and reasonable damage which arose from the loss of social position and the anxiety, pain, and suffering in which plaintiff would be placed with regard to bis wife, bis children, his family, and his congregation. These were causes of action, and although he might think individually, and other judges might think individually, that they would not have given this precise amount, or, perhaps, an amount which might be short of it, it appeared to bim hat there was no guiding rule by which this court could interfere to sa) that these damages were too high, and unless somo proposition of that kind could be matntained.tha courtshould not interfere. Iu this country we had nothing like any repres- sion of the press, but the press must use its influence fairly, its liberty being subject to this— that if private damage was occasioned it was open to the jury to give damages which they thought would fairly recoup a plaintiff. It appeared to him, therefore, that the court ougut not to interfere, and this application must be dismissed with costs. Mr Justice Manisty concurred, and said the defendants rushed to the conclusion that this was a grave minis- terial scandal," and assumed the plaintiff was guilty. They persistently repeated the allegations. Having Rot up a sort of subscription list, they published it under the heading The Minister and his Servant." This was in the month of April, after the name of the minister was known and after drawing attention by the heading The Minister and his Servant," they said, see report of affiliation proceedings, Western Mail, March 29th, 1888." Then be found in the subscription list this atiu juncement One who thinks the girl has fallen into very bad hands, 10." So the whole thiug went ou until they came to the last article which, to bis mind, was the most insulting and the most injurious, viz., tbat of the 2lst of April, 1888. But they did not stop there. By their defence the defendants justified the libels. They said, U Tha words we have published are true except the alleged defamatory meaning." What nonsense that was Did they mean to say that the words were not defamatory! If not, it was simply idle to say tbey were true without their defamatory meaning. They were unquestionably defamatory from beginning to end. Then at the trial the justification was persisted in. The girl was called as a witness by defen- dants. Strong speeches were made. Toey did not say, We have acted honestly in this matter and for the public good," but they said "we justify," and they endeavoured to prove that the piainciff was guilty of this scandalous conduct down to the very end of the casej when the matter was left to the jury. That wa& their conduct, aud the jury considered that large damages should be awarded. Ho could not say they were wrong under these circumstances. He agreed with his learned brother that this was not a case in which they ought to interfere with the verdict of the jury. Application for a new trial refused accordingly, with costs.

SHOCKING DISCOVERY AT LLANELLY.

THE ABSCONDING CARDIFF SECRETARY.

FUNERAL OF MR G. SHEPHERD,…

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