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SERIOUS IRREGULARITIES ALLEGED BY THE POLICE. TWO DAYS' HEARING AT THE POLICE COURT. As was reported in our last issue, there was a special sitting of the Barry Police < ourt on Thursday, the 26th ultimo, to hear e\ idence upon a summons issued by the police to show cause why the Unionist Working menV Club and Institute, situate in Holton-road, llnry Docks, should not be struck off the register of clubs on the ground of alleged irregularities. The case was the outcome of a raid made by the police on the premises of the club some time ago, and a large amount of interest was evinced in the hearing of the evidence by a full court during the day. Mr George David, solicitor, Cardiff, con- ducted the prosecution on behalf of the police; and Mr B. Francis Williams, K.C., instructed by Mr F. P. Jones-Lloyd, solicitor, Barry, defended. The justices who occupied the Bench were Mr T. R. Thompson and Mr J. C. Meggitt. In opening the case, Mr George David said the proceedings were taken under section 28 of the Licensing Act, 1902, the terms of complaint in the summons against the Club, and its secretary (James Johnson, 12, Regent-street, Barry Docks), being as follows :—"(1) That the club was not conducted in good faith as a club; (2) that there was frequent drunkenness on the premises; (3) that illegal sales of intoxicating liquor have taken place on the premises; and (4) that the supply of in- toxicating liquor to the club was not under the control of the committee appointed by the mem- bers." The club, Mr David stated, was formed on the 23rd of October, 1896, when rules were formed, new and revised rules being adopted in 1900 and 1902. The first minutes of the club contained an incorrect and misleading entry, that the first meeting of the promoters of the club was held at 22, Holton-road, whereas such meeting was held in the house of a man named Stroud, in Thompson- street. Stroud was the first steward of the club, and all the people who attended the initial meet- ings were people who would, in different ways, benefit by the formation of the club. On Sunday, the 6th of March of the present year, the police paid a surprise visit to the club premises, and during nearly two hours the police remained there, no less than 137 persons entered the premises, which were comparatively small, containing absolutely no facilities except for drinking purposes. There was a piano on the premises, but this was used at smoking concerts which were from time to time htld, and these naturally afforded additional inducements to the consump- tion of drink. There was also a bagatelle table, but it was used for ordinary table purposes. There was supposed to be a library, but it contained no books there was also a reading room, but it was entirely devoid of newspapers or magazines of current date, only one or two magazines of a month or two old. When the police visited the club on the the 6th of March there were one or two persons there under the influence of drink, and no attempt was made by anyone responsible for I the management of the club to have them ejected till their attention was called to the men by the police. The original rules of the club provided that all disputes were to be referred to the final arbitrament of a certain solicitor named therein. Mr B. Francis Williams So that whatever you may say of the club, it had at least a bona-jide. solicitor. (Laughter.) Mr David Yes, who was evidently determined to have a bib out of it. (Laughter.) Resuming his remarks, Mr David said the original rules specified that the club was formed for the bona-jide consumption—whatever that might mean — of pure and wholesome intoxicating liquors at moderate charges. Mr B. F. Williams: The members were evidently free fooders. (Laughter.) Mr David I would rather call them free drinkers. (Laughter.) Mr David said in the revised rules of 1900 it was shown that the object of the club was to afford rational enjoyment; and in the rules of 1902, which were at present in force, it was to provide for working-men social intercourse, mutual helpfulness, mental and moral improvement, and rational recreation, but no reference whatever to the sale or consumption of drink was made therein. Mr David described the mode of election of members, and amount of entrance fee and sub- scriptions, and said, according to the books of the club when they were seized by the police, there were Various serious discrepancies apparent under these heads. Of the 137 persons who were present on the club premises during the police visit on March 6th, there was scarcely one who had been elected in a regular manner according to the rules, consequently it was illegal to supply any of these men with intoxicating drinks, in fact the place was con- ducted with an utter disregard of its own regula- tions. During their visit the police were informed that the committee provided one loaf and some cheese every day for the members, and twice this quantity, with pickles, on Saturday and Sunday. but the published balance-sheet for 1903 showed that no less than J648 had been paid during the year for bread, cheese, pickles, and matches. There were at the close of the year 561 members on the books, but a large proportion of these had not paid their subscriptions, and of the amount received by way of subscriptions only a portion, had been transferred to the treasurer and paid to the bank. Mr David added that there bad been a large amount of drunkenness and disorderly conduct on the club premises. This he could prove by the books of the club themselves, but more had come under the observation of the police. Members' wives had also frequently gone to the club in search of their husbands, and there had been dis- turbance when they could not be found. Amongst the members of the club were men of known drunken habits, and these had been admitted and re-admitted notwithstanding the fact that they had been convicted at the police-court or expelled from the club. Police-sergeant R. H. Thomas (203) was the first witness called in support of the prosecution. Sergeant Thomas detailed the circumstances of the visit paid by Inspector Morris, himself, and several constables to the club on Sunday, the 6th of March, when they took the names of 137 men who entered the premises during the time they were there. Drink was being supplied in abundance, and it was as much as the waiters could do to serve the crowd. With the exception of two all the men present were on the ground floor, and there was no provision made other than for drinking. Witness corroborated the statement of Mr David as to the almost entire absence of facilities for games, reading, &c. He had been informed by the steward that a loaf of bread, with some cheese and pickles, were provided for the members every day, with double the quantity on Saturday and Sunday. The last entry in the daily takings book was on the 29th February, and when the attention of the secretary was called to the fact, he produced a slip of paper on which the takings had been entered for the previous week. The original promoters of the club were men who would financially benefit, either directly or indirectly, thereby. He found 125 forms of application in which the dates liad been altered 32 of these had paid their subscrip- tions for the present year, and 91 had not paid. The alterations of dates, he believed, were made by the secretary. Witness produced 243 proposal forms, a large number of which had been made out irregularly he also produced 1,182 proposal forms the dates on which had been filled in by the secretary, and not according to the rules, and 176 forms in which there was not the required three days' interval between the date of nomination and election whereas in a number of cases, forms were produced which showed that the persons had been elected several days before they were nom- inated. The present secretary (the defendant Johnson) was elected member on the 5th of February, 1898, and he (witness) was of opinion that the handwriting on the nomination form was that of Johnson himself. Witness proceeded to give evidence m proof of other various similar discrepancies, when the Court adjourned for luncheon. At the resumption of the sitting, the justices proceeded to examine in detail the large number of forms which had, on different grounds, been irregularly made out. There were twenty forms pertaining to members who had not paid their subscription for the present year. Mr B. F. Williams contended that there was no evidence to show that these persons had enjoyed the benefits and privileges of the club. Mr David replied that their names were on the register. Mr B. F. Williams Those who have not paid their subscriptions are not members. Mr David said their names should not be on the register at all. Witness produced 491 proposal forms, the signa- tures on the whole of which were in the hand- writing of a former secretary of the club. During the police visit the men present were requested to produce their cards of membership, but 43 out of the 137 failed to comply with the request. Mr B. F. Williams pointed out that there was no rule calling upon members to carry their cards with them. Witness added that he found some of the cards and their duplicates behind the bar in the posses- sion of the steward. On examination of the books there were numerous discrepancies between the amounts alleged to have been received as sub- scriptions and those paid to the bank. On the 8th of January last four hogsheads and a barrel of beer were delivered to to the club, but were not entered in the books. Also a barrel of beer on August 12, 1903, and a jar of port wine on May 7, 1903. The stock-book showed that the takings for the weeks August 8th and 14, 1903, amounted to £111 Os 3d, but only £105 14s 3d was paid into the bank. Free drinks were frequently given to the committee-men members, but there was no check kept on the steward. It was shown that certain members "got into trouble," and their fines were paid out of the club funds, being debited to "Police charges,"these men having been locked up at Chepetow. Mr B. F. Williams That should have been charged to "lodgings." (Laughter.) Mr David They even went so far as to pay bastardy arrears for some one. Witness Yes, for a waiter. (Laughter). Sergeant Thomas added that the steward's stock book showed an overplus of £ 7 8s lOd, and a deficit of £20. Amongst the club records were minutes dealing with members for abuse of the committee, gambling on the premises, using foul language, drunk on the premises, etc., and even the present secretary* had been severely repri- manded." A number of members of the club had been convicted at the police couct for drunkenness and disorderdly conduct, for being" drunk and disorderly on licensed premises, and assaulting the police. Mr B. F. Williams objected to this evidence, and said it had nothing to do with the case. Witness described the club as a disgrace to the town, and said frequently as many as 150 men I could be seen coming out of the club on Sunday, many being drunk and had to be led home. Some had also bottles of beer in their pockets. On a Saturday night the olub was a perfect pandemon- ium. There were two men drunk on the premises when the police made the raid. Mr B. F. Williams said he was instructed that one of these men was seen by a doctor, who gave it as his opinion that he was not drunk. Witness replied he did not oare two-pence for the doctor's opinion he believed he was drunk. I The other man who was drunk called him a b liar for saying so. Mr B. F. Williams That is rude. but forcible. You know this a working-men's club. (Laughter). Witness It is a brewer's club. It is not a bona fide club. After hearing some further evidence from the same witness, the Bench decided to adjourn the case till Tuesday, at 1G o'clock, when the examin- ation of the first witness will be resumed.






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