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LOCAL MARINE BOARD, I

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ROYAL CLARENCE THEATRE,I PONTYPHIDD.

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LIBERATOR CRASH. Jabez Balfour's Trial. OTHER DIRECTORS ARRAIGNED. I To-day's Revelations. I PRESS COMMENTS A PROTEST. I [SPECIAL TELEGRAM TO THE ECHO-"I LONDON, Alotiday.-Iti the Queen's Bench Division to-day the trial was resumed of Jabez Spencer Balfour, George Edward Brock, MÖrrell l'heobaldr and George Dibley, charged with various frauds in connection with the Liberator Group of Companies. The case against one other director, Major Wright, is not being taken at present,and therefore he is relieved from attendance at this stage. Tite fiist of the defendants to put in an appearance vtts Mr Brock, who took a seat at the solicitors' table as on Friday. Mr Dibley, warmly muffled up, for the morning was very cold, came nexi, quickly followed by Mr Theobald. The rush for seats which marked the first day's proceedings was not repeated. There were a few I' ladies in court, including one or two in the Judge's gallery. I Balfours Appearance. Jabez Balfour was escorted into court between two warders about 25 minutes past 10. He did not look qnite so well as on Friday. There was an absence of the customary smile, and when he took his seat next to the other defendants with a warder by his side he com- menced to nervously bite his nails and next tidgetted uneasily with a quill pen on the table before him. Mr John O'Connor, Balfour's leading counsel, then came into court, and turning in his seat the prisoner entered into close conversation with him. I Victims in Court, Mr Justice Btuee took his «eat at half-past 10. By this time the Attorney-General (Sir Richard Web-ter) had t'ntered the court, and Mr Wheeler (the official receiver) with his staff of assistants was already present. Amongst those in court were several gentlemen whose losses in the various •companies are known to have been considerable. Press Comments Objected to. Upon the Judge taking his seat on the b'mnh Mr J. O'Connor handed up a copy of the Star newspaper, a portion of which the Judge care- fully perused. Mr O'Connor said Ie wished to call the attention of tha Court to an article which appeared in the Star now-ptp-r on Friday evening last descriptive of the proceedings in court on that day. He did not ask his Lordship to censure the tone or manner or even the taste of the article m question, which he said was bitterly hostile to Mv Balfour. In that article the writer alluded to volumes of books and ledgers which were brought into the court as monuments of Balfourian finance," and in the same breath spoke of Mr Wheeler as "liquidator of the ruined companies." A little further on the Attorney General was referred to as not only the law officer of the Crown, but the representative of the thousands of Liberator victims scattered over the country ? Of course the word victim implied something else. He could not ask his Lordship to take notice of that, but he did wish some notice to be taken of a distinct lnisrepresentaliofi of fact in the same paper-what the Attorney-General had said in dealing with the sum of £9ûo which was paid to Mr Driver for his valuation of the estates. A correct report of what was said had ap- peared in other p ipers. Ashorfctime since hohadto bring before another Court the editor of a London paper for commenting on this case. In giving his judgment Mr Justice Wills said he never knew a case which had been no shamefully treated as the present one. In the howl of rage which had gone up against his olienfc the paper which he asked the Judge to notice took a leading part. It had been bitterly hostile to his client, and even now, when the case was before the Court, could not apparently restrain itself or keep within the bounds of decency. He asked that his Lordship would visit some censure on a paper which acted in this way, so that during the trial they might have something like fair play. The jury were not referred to in that paper in compli- mentary terms, and they were not restrained from reading the newspapers. Personally he had every confidence in the jury, but ha was not going beyond his duty in asking his Lordship to take some notice, if not of the tone and temper of the paper,at least of the misrepresentations which bad appeared. The Judge said of course it was of the greatest importance that during a trial of that kind nothing should appear in the public prints which might in any way prejudice those who were on their trial. With regard to tho article—to which the learned counsel had called attention—in the Star, there were observation3 or inferences which he thonghb ought not to have been made, and which were, no doubc, calculated to lead to the inference that the defendants on their trial, and particularly the defendant Balfour, had been guilty of theofifences with which they were charged and vverenowbeing tried.'Observations of that kind ought nob to have been made. On the whole in this country we oould generally rely on the discretion and judgment of the Press in giving only fair reportsof what occurred in Courtsof Jus- tice. He could not say that Mr O'Connor was not fully warranted in calling attention to the article in question, but he entertained little doubt that in future the editor of the paper would abstain from any comments which would in any way tend to prejudice those who were on their trial. Having expressed that opinion, he had no doubt that both that paper and other papers would take care not to indulge in any comments or observations which might in any way tend to prejudice the defendants. With regard to the remark about the misrepre- sentations of what the Attorney-General had said, he could well understand that there had been some little difficulty in representing accurately all the statements made by the Attorney-General In regard to the amount of £ 900 paid to Mr Driver, he thought he had said enough on the matter, and he was sure the jury would not be affected by anything which appeared in I the papers. They were bound by their oaths to give a verdict according to the evidence and the evidence only, but at the same time it was of the highest importance that the Press, which was in their country generally admirably conducted and with the greatest possible discretion, should abstain from any comments which might in any way seem to reflect on those who were now on their trial, Mr J. O'Connor I tliank your Lordship for that statement. First Witness To-day. Mr John Pitman was the first witness put in the box. H" was a clerk in the office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Con pwies. Ho produced the file of the Lands Company, which was incorporated in November, 1867, the original capital h.ing reached £ 1.000,000. The articled of association showed the oojecb of tho company to be tho r, uroliase of and dealing in land, the erection of buildings, and raising and lending money. The or-gin,it articles of association were superseded, by a fresh set in 1883, which provided thab the (tirectors' reixiuneritlioti was to be 50 guineas per annum and a hare of certain surplus profits. In June, 1833, the articles were amended to provide that the amount,to be distributed between lihe fhrectors in any one year should not exceed £ 5,000. He also producect the file of the House aud Land Investment Trust, which was incor- porated in June, 1875, with an original capital of £ 100,000. In 1891 it was increased lo £ 500,000. He also produced the file of T. W. H<I¡'u and CI)., Limited, incorporated on the 15th April, 1885, with a capital of £ 250,000 the fil of Georgo Newman and Co,, Limited, incorporated m January, 1876. with a capital (,f £ 50,000 f the file of the Building Securities Company, Limited, incorporated on the 25^1 November, 1885, with a capital of £ 500,000 tho file of the Rual Estates Co., Limited, incorpor- ated on April 13, 1888, with a capital of zioo, 000, The share list showed thab 12 persons held 837 shares in the company at jB5 each. He also pro- duced the file of the London and Gener 1 Bank, incorporaVd in Novemtw, 1882, with a capital I, of gloo,ooo, which by 1889 was increased to a million. The offices were at the same place as the Lands Allotment Company's offices. Priority in Cross-examination. I At the conclusion of witness's evidence-in-chief Mr Atherley Jones (for Theobald) asked the Judge to determine the question of the priotity ot counsel m cross-examining, mentioning that counsel had met in a friendly spirit to arrange the matter themselves, but failed to come to an ?reement. He submitted that the couns?) who were S8mor should have precedence in crosa- examining and addressing the jury. The Juctge rather thought that he order of the indictment should be followed. He gathered that Balfour was the principal defendant. Mr A. Jones replied that there was a larger I' number of counts against Balfour than the other defendants. He questioned whether it would be to the interest of the other defendants to have Balfour's case in the tront. The Attorney-General (speaking for the Bar nither than as pro^eciiving counsel) protested against there being any arbitrary rule as to seniority of counsel. He submitted that the order of the indictment should be followed. Mr John O'Connor (for Balfour) said iC would save the time of the Court if Mr A. Jones were allowed to cross-examine first. The Judge said he could not accede to Mr Jones's contention that seniority should prevail. Mr O'Connor represented the principal defendant, and he (his Lordship) should have ruled that he should ross-exarr.ine first, counsel failing to agree, but if Mr O'Connor was willing to waive his rights all well and good. Mr O'Connor applied that witnesses mighb leave the Courb,and the Judge said he thought he was entitled to have his application granted. In reply to Mr Woodfall (fro Dibley), the witness Pitman said thab the name of the defend- ant did not appear as a subscriber to the Lands Allotment Company nor in connection with the I first proceedings of the company. I Witnesses Out of Court. I William Brigham, chief clerk in the office of the Registrar of Friendly Societies, deposed that the Liberator was registered in 1868, and was mcorporated under the Building Societies Act in 1874. The witness also gave the dates at which the defendants were connected with the various companies of the Balfour Group. The Attorney-General, referring to Mr O'Connor's application to have all the witnesses out of court, asked that there should be excepted from the decision Mr Millen, Mr Browell, and Mr Johns, as it would be much more convenient to have them in court. Mr O'Connor said these were just the very gentlemen to whom he objected. These were clerics connected with the oiffces, who could do all that was necessary in the way of producing books, etc. He wanted the evidence of each of these witnesses individually and apart from each other, and any other arrangement would not be fair to his clint. n The Attorney-General said it would be found that it was chiefly formal evidence that would be given by these gentlemen, and he would not persist. The witnesses mentioned then left the court. The defendant Balfour here made a communica. tion to his counsel. Mr O Connor said Mr Rahn, of the Official Receiver's offiec, was still in court, and he ohjt-cfced to h:s presence. The Attorney-General said someone must be in court to produce the documents needed in the case, and he should therefore not call Mr Rahn as a witness. I Mr Wheeler Under Examination. I Mr Samuel Wheeler was the next witness. He said he was one of th* official receivers under the Companies' Winding Up Act of 1830, and in August, 1393. he became liquidator to the Balfour Group of Companies. He investigated the whole of tho books of the various companies and con- ducted the examination of the directors and officials, and the evidence he was prepared to give would ba based on his own personal investi- gation of matter. The defendant. Balfour was, he believed, originally a Parliamentary agent, and was connected with nearly all the Balfour Gr?up of C.-mp?nit? M director, managing director, vice-chairnvui, or v!ce'Pt't'idellt'l Mr Brock was c'?nec'?ed with the Liberator, the House and Land TWt, the London and G-neral Bank, Hobbs and Co., the Budding Secunties and tho Budding Jii-state Brickfields Company, as secretary, director, vice chairman, chairman, or financial secretary. Mr Brock was auditor of Huhbs and Co. Mr Theobald was connected with the Li berator, the Buiiding Securities Comprmy, and the House and Lund Trust. Mr Dibley was connected with the Liberator, the House and Land Trust, the London and General B-sjilc, Hobbs and Co., the Building Securities Company, and the Building Estate Company. The Lands Allot- ment Company paid a dividend of 5 percent, from 1873 to September, 1892, on the ordinary share-, 6 pr cellt;, o n share* from September, 1889, to 1892, and bonuses on the ordinary shares in addition. The first; issue of preference stock in the company was in ]868. The original capital was £ 500.000. In 1872 B15000 additional was publicly sub- scribed for in 1873, £21.600; in 18H. £ 13.000 in 1876, £ 16,000 in 1877, L25,000 in 1878, £ 7,000 iu <i379, £ 16,000 1,1 1880, £ 29.000; in 1881, £ 72.000 m 1882, £ 31,000 m 1883, £ 56.000 in 1884, L61,000 in IE,8,5, 437,000 in 1886, £ 49,000 and in 1887, £ 6.000. That made i i, w i) ("I e, of the ordinary capital of £ 500,OuO. In addition i fiom 1888 to 1892 k pretK?nce capital of £ 266,000 was publicly subscribed. The total in pr(,ttj' ;6'-4 692 There were w H?, Itif ad also debentures amounting to £290.000. He had made out wil ,it was drawn by the defendants in the shape of;fees, bonuses, profits, etc., from the s Allotment Company. Baifour had ?15.981; Brock had ?8 957; Tivohald ri eeived £ 4,951 and gDibley had T?3,672. Witness had also made out what they had received from all the Balfour Companies in respect to fee, &, and not as shareholders. Mr Marshall Hall (for Brock) objected on the ground that the question was all unfair one. To Live or Die iogether, The Attorney-General replied that all the companies were worksd as one concern; thpy had to live or die together. His case was that these gentlemen were receiving lalge sums of money in tiie shape of surplus profits and fees from all these companies, and the matter was most mate- rial in reference to the intent because the prose- cution alleged thab these prospectuses and reports were issued to induce the public to subscribe, and so these gentlemen were interested to a far larger extent than merely in the Lands Allotment C'nnpany's transactions. The Judge thought he could not exclude the question. Mr Marshall Hal! persisted that the defendants were now being charged with making false entries in respect to the Lands Allotment Com- pany. How could it bo evidence that they had received money from other.companies ? O'her learned counsel for defendants supported Mr Marshall Hall's objection, which, however, was disallowed. Defendants' Fees. Mr Wheeler continuing his evidence in reply to the Attorney-General, said that the amount of fees received by the four present defendants from the various companies was its follows :—P.altour, 36,551 Brock, 25,308 Theobald, £ 8,148 and J.)ibit,y, 12,103. There was also a sum ()[ L7,852 in the House and Lands Trust Company's accounts which could not be npportioned to the directors. The witness also gave the details of the various sums, to hloet the objections made by tho defendants' counsel. The L:.nd Allotment Company began business in 1872, and made various purchases, but he was not aware that any were bought by autiori. He found no references in the books or accounts which would show that any independent valuation had been made of these estates as a. matter of business. If there had been a. valuation be should have expscted to find a reference to it in the books of tha company. The estates purchased were very largely introduced to the company byMrGranville Wngnt, thesolicitor, Witness found from tne actual entries in the books the officials added interest to the purohase money of the estates from year to year. The Romford Ifl-state of 510 acres was bought in 1885 for R,102,006 from Granville Wright through the Liberator. The original sum paid to the seller of the estate was £ 3^,606. 230,000 was left on uiortg.ige, £ 3 263 was paid to Granville Wright, and £37,000 was added to the value of the estate m the books (If the company. Do you find anything to justify the profit of £ 37,000 ?—Nothing at all. Examination continued The Lands Allotment Company bought the Romford Estate for £ 19,200, but there was absolutely nothing to jusl.ity the profit of £ 30^000 placed upon it by the Lib >rator- year by year. 1 merest, was added to tho value of that estate in the books of the company, till in 1887 it stood at a book value of £ 121,000. He believed no building was going on in regard to it till 1887. The income wnieh came from that estate never came to £ 1,200 a year, so that it did not produce enough to pay interest due on the mortgage. In the great majority of the estates this system of adding interest on the value of the estates in the company's book", was pursued, and in the majority of cases the price of the original purchase was swollen by intermedmte profits paid to other persons. Ic appears to have been the habit of the directors to draw up a rough profit and loss account. He found one dated February, 1887, in the handwriting of McMillan, a ch>rk in the company, that corresponded wi I;h the accounts in the books of the company up to 1887, and showed a loss on 11 months' irk(ii,ig of £ 15,500. Th«re were differences between that balance sheet and the one issued by the company a month later. It appeared from the minute book of the company that similar rough accounts were prepared in previous years. He had found another rough balance sh«eb dated 1892, showing a loss on the year of £ 23,259. The Court here adjourned for lunch.

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