[ Sir Harry Bodkin Poland and Sir Richard Harington on the Criminal Evidence Act, 1898. ] Autograph Letter Signed from Poland to Harington and Autograph Draft of Letter from Harington - with two autograph riders by Poland - to the Attorney General..

Sir Harry Bodkin Poland (1829-1928), barrister; Sir Richard Harington (1835-1911) [ Sir Richard Webster [ Richard Everard Webster, 1st Viscount Alverstone ] (1842-1915), Attorney General, 1895-1900 ]
Publication details: 
Poland's letter to Harington on letterhead of 28 Sloane Gardens, S.W. [ London ]; 1 May 1897. Harington's draft letter to the Attorney General from 87 Eaton Terrace, S.W. [ London ]; 2 May 1897.
SKU: 19565

The background to the present correspondence is dealt with exhaustively in C. J. W. Allen's 'The Law of Evidence in Victorian England' (1997) and David Bentley's 'English Criminal Justice in the 19th Century' (1998), chapters 17 ('The Campaign for a Prisoners' Evidence Act') and 18 ('Reform'). ONE: Autograph Letter Signed from Poland ('Harry Bodkin-Poland') to Harington ('His Honour Judge Sir Richard Harington Bart.'). 4pp., 12mo. Bifolium. In good condition, lightly aged. He begins by informing Harington that he has sent a letter to The Times, but that he fears it is 'too long for this busy time with the newspapers'. He asks him his opinion of 'the calm & sober judgment of Stephen', i.e. Sir Herbert Stephen (1857-1932). The letter continues: 'The Bill will not be in Committee for a week or ten days, so you have plenty of time to consider your letter to the A. G. | When notice of all the Amendments has been given the Lord Chancellor will no doubt I should think consult the Cabinet as to which, if any, of them the Government will accept. The L. C. Lord Cross, Lord James, Sir Matthew Ridley, Lord Salisbury, & others in Cabinet with actual experience, & the A. G. & S[olicitor]. G[eneral]. & men like Sir Edmund Clarke & others out of the Cabinet, ought to make a good working Bill.' He concludes by stating his point of view: 'The more I think of the subject, the more I am convinced that no safeguards can be of any use, & that everything must be left as at present to the good sense & judgment of the Court & Counsel.' TWO: Two Autograph documents by Poland, headed by him 'Rider A' and 'Rider B', giving his legal opinion for insertion in Item Three below. The first (2pp., 8vo) is in poor condition, aged and frayed. It begins: 'Poland thinks the instructing Solicitors or Counsel or both on behalf of prisioners is absolutely impracticable. See the Calendars of the C[entral]. C[riminal]. C[ourt]. the London Sessions & of large towns.' The second (1p., 12mo) is in fair condition, lightly aged. It begins: 'Poland thinks that care must be taken that prisoners should not be able to say that the Prosecutor & his witnesses have sworn so & so &c, & the Prisoner and his wife only stated so & so. The affirmation must be like the affirmation of people who object to be sworn.' THREE: Autograph Draft of Letter from Harington to the Attorney General (Sir Richard Webster). 9pp., 12mo. With emendations by both Harington and Poland, including directions by the latter for the insertion of the two riders (Item Two above). Begins: 'I have had a long talk with Poland over the prisoner's evidence bill, on the assumption that its principle is taken to be established & is not open to argument. We agree very decidedly that its operation should extend equally to every class of criminal case whether triable on indictment at a General Session of Oyer & Terminer or Quarter Sessions or <?> at Police Courts & Petty Sessions'. Harington proceeds to argue his position forcefully and in great detail. At one point Poland writes: 'Poland cannot go so far as this & the danger of injustice already exists from incompetent judges Chairmen of Q. S. & Recorders & magistrates'. From the papers of Sir Richard Harington (1835-1911) of Ridlington, 11th Baronet.