THE WARD-HISLOP AFFAIR.
The Parliamentary enquiries into the conduct of Mr District Judge Ward iv dealing with the Christie case, and into the correspondence of Mr Hislop with Judge Ward, have resulted as was generally anticipated— the former, by the JPnblic Petitions Committee report- , ing that full justice had been done by Judge Ward to Christie, and the latter by a Committee of the Legislative Council that Mr Hislop's correspondence with the Judge merits the gravest disapproval. Ihe Judge is thus completely vindicated, and the late Colonial Secretary as completely condemned. Evidence taken by the Legislative Council Committee shows a degree of interference by Mr Hislop with the course of justice that cannot be considered anything less than scandalous. Judge Ward and the Clerk of the Court between them were no doubt guilty of carelessness m drawing up the warrant of commitment of Christie, but the subsequent corrections, which Judge Ward instructed to be made, were within his legal power to effect. Before, however, the place of imprisonment had been altered the warrant bad been sent to Dunedin, and consequently tbe correction was not made, and on this flaw Christie escaped having to work out his sentence. Judge Ward's memorandum m reply to Mr Hislop deals with the whole case exhaustively, and is a masterpiece of belligerent correspondence, being not only strong m defence of the writer'B position, but also making some very lively skirmishes into the enemy's lineß. To the inuendo tbat his liability to the Colonial Investment Company was on account of an overdue mortgage Judge Ward points out that if a finance company is satisfied with the security and with the rate of interest (as m his case) the loan is seldom called m, and remarks that the loans which the Colonial luvestment Company have been anxious to call m are those m which Christie has been concerned with Hislop and Creagh " as his solicitors, which only show 50 per cent on the amount due. The theory that the fact of a judge being indebted to a suitor, or prosecutor, or creditor appearing m his Court disqualifies him from sitting or deciding on any case where they are concerned, is, says the Judge, an entirely new development of Mesßrß Hislop and Fergus, palpably iavented for the purposes of the present case, and wholly unwarranted by any statute oi decision of an * nglish Court. f l he technical difference between the status of a District Court Judge and a Judge of the Supreme Court is held by Judge Ward to be the only ground, short of misconduct, on which ministers have any excuse for interfering with him, and he shows that this ground is untenable m the' present case. He shows that his siting m precisely similar circumstances has not hitherto been questioned, but was actually m one instance insisted upon— but he remarks individuals convicted and sentenced m some of these cases had not the good fortune to be clients of a Minister of the Crown. Mr Hislop has accepted the judgment passed upon him. and resigned bis portfolio and bis seat m the House. That his resignation of office was not at once accepted is strongly presumptive evidence that the i Premier approves of the conduct of Mr Hislop, and this being so Mr Grim mond's amendment last night to the motion for going into Committee of Supply could not bo treated otherwise than as a motion of no confidence m the Governmpnt. Mr Grimmond's remarks •that he failed to see how Mr Fergus could escape censure m the matter—he had stated that he had deemed it his duty to take all responsibility for Mr Hislop's action and therefore the House should not allow all the punishment to fall on that gentlemanrHa^plains tbe sympathetic attitude of members tor wards Mr Hislop m the afternoon. It was not an expression of confidence m Mr Hislop, but of regret that his colleague had left him to suffer by himself. Mr Hislop was unwise enough to say tbat he resigned m order to have a "free hand " to deal with Judge Ward j he will do well to leave his Honor alone. The Judge on the other hand has estab lished his position, and cannot do better than continue to enjoy the confidence of the country m his judicial capacity.
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