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MR HISLOP'S STATEMENT.

Duiing the proceedings of the WardHislop Committee the Hon. T. W. Hidop appeared before the Committee and made the following statement : The Hon. Mr Stevens informed me during a preceding part of the sittings of this Committee that the Committee were good enough to state if I pleased I could be present specially during the examination of Mr Ward. I wish to state now that tho reason I did not attend in accordance with that suggestion was that I did not look on this matter as one between Mr Ward and myself; it is a matter between myself and my colleagues so far as I am concerned ; and as far as Mr Ward is concerned it is a matter between him and the country to so.ne extent, and I had no desire to appear to prosecute the matter against him. Ido not know what evidence the Committee would like me to give. I am prepared, if it is thought neccß:a'-y, to amplify what I stated in my speech in the House of Representatives.

Alter some further preliminary remarks the Hon. Mr Hislop proceeded to state in more detail than he had done in his speech to the House what took place between himself and the clerk of the Court. He said : The cause of the conversation between myself and the clerk was this: I met a gentleman in the street who informed me that he had heard that they were going to remove Christie from the gaol at Oamaru to—l forget which he said, either Dunedin or Timaru. I said I could not suppose that there was anything of the sort in contemplation; that the Governor-inCouncil alone had the power to remove a prisoner from one gaol to another after sentence; that it would be absurd to suppose anyone else could take such a responsibility on himself. We were walking up the street when we met Mr Filleul. I said: "Here is the clerk of the Court; I will ask him whether he knows anything about it." As we met him, I said to Mr Filleul: " What is this I hear about removing Christie ?" He replied : " The Judge has telegraphed telling me to alter the warrant." I then said : " Well, that is rather a serious matter. What do you intend to do?" He answered: "I suppose I will have to do what the Judge says." I replied " that would not protect you. The Judge has no power to do such a thing." And besides, I inquired " Has the Judge any power to act when he is outside of his own district; he used not to have ?" He said " Oh, yes, there has been an amendment to the Act; at least, I think so." I then said "I wish you would show it to me." We were walking towards the Court. He went in and showed me the amendment to the Act. I said " That is right enough, but it must be on a matter that is properly before him; this matter has ceased to be before him." I also mentioned that it had been held there was no power to alter a warrant after the Judge had left the Bench. I had previously said to him, bytbe bye, that I thought he had gone too far in making the alteration which he had already made. After talking some timo over the matter I said to him " What do you think of doing ?" He answered : " Am I not bound to obey what the Judge tells me?" I said to him: " You would not be protected in obeying the Judge in regard to a matter in which he has no jurisdiction, and id any proceedings that might be taken you would be aa liable as be." Mr Filleul replied that he did not suppose he would suffer much for the mere obeying of his superior officer. I said to him that it would depend as to whether he knew that he was disobeying the superior of both. I then referred him to what had been ruled by the Supreme Court. He then said to me that if I told him not to alter the warrant, or not to do anything further in the matter, he would obey me. I said: "No; I will not tell you not to do anything, but I think it is a matter which you could refer to your superior officer in Wellington. I will do this: I will telegraph to the Minister of Justice to get him to obtain the Solicitor-General's opinion, and the Minister of Justice can give you instructions from there." Was that opinion obtained ?—Yes. It is confidential, I presume ?—Yes. I then said: "In order that you may not get into any row with the Judge I will put it in writing if you like, and you can use it if he telegraphs to you." He had previously told mo that it was not a matter of much importance; that he had telegraphed to the Judge that the warrant had been sent to Mr Haggitt, and he had no copy himself—that, therefoic, he could not alter it or make any new copy. Thereupon I made tho endorsement on the telegram. I may state to the Committee that it was only to be used in the event of Mr Ward again telegraphing. As a matter of fact, nothing The warrant had been sent away, so that if Mr Ward had required it no further alterations could be made. Not only that, it was too late in any event, even if the authorities were to say that in certain cases a new warrant might issue. Even in these cases it did not apply, for it ought to be done before return to the habeas corpus ; but in this case the return, I believe, bad been made. It had not been made at the time it was altered. That was nine days before. In the meantime, although I had b: ea Mr

Fillcul frequently, I never spoke about the alteration of the date.

Are you familiar with the 216 th clause of the Bankruptcy Act?—l know of this clause. I understood it was produced in those cases where the Supreme Court held that there was no power for substituting a new warrant or altering an old one. You know that in the case in re Crowe this was Mr Justice Williams's decision. After leaving the Court I telegraphed to the Minister of Justice and explained to him what I had done, asking him at the same time to get the Solicitor • General's opinion. Then practically you had no more to do with it ?—I had nothing more to do with it. The Committee will understand that I did not conceive it to bo interference on my part with the matter at all. Mr Filleul looked so extremely uncomfortable over the whole thing. I did it to protect him from any subsequent proceedings, on the one hand, or blame that might be attached to him by Mr Ward. I made the endorsement, taking upon myself the responsibility of doing so, to get instructions frcm Wellington, and because I did not want the clerk to get into a row on either side.

Hon. Mr Shepherd : You spoke of meeting a gentleman on the street, and having a conversation with him on this matter ; was that the inspector of police?—No; it was not. It was a private friend ; it was no official at all.

You spoke of the superior of both. To whom did you refer ?—I referred to the Supreme Court. You did not refer to a Ministerial or departmental superior ?—No ;to the Supreme Court. Hon. Mr Reynolds : Do you consider that a Minister is justified in offering comment upon a Judge's action, or on the decisions of the magistrates in any c»se that comes before them?—l do not quite understand what you mean by "comment." It has been recognised all over the world that it is right on the part of a Minister to call on a Judge to explain any matter that requires explanation. That has been recognised, not only in regard to Judges of inferior Courts, but also by Judges of the superior Courts. I suppose you mean cases referred to the Government when they ask for particulars from the Judge. Not only those, there are numerous cases of other conduct which Ministers have asked Judges to explain ; for instance, Ministers may ask a Judge to explain statements made in Court ?—The right has never been questioned, that I remember, at Home. There was a case of a Judge of a Superior Court who commented in a hostile way upon a decision given by the Lord Chancellor. The Judge was called upon by the Home Secretary to explain why he had made the statement. There was a case in Australia where there was an interference resulting, I think, in the Judge retiring from the Bench. Do you mean to ask me whether it is right for anyone to interfere with the Judge before his decision is given ? After it ia given.—After it is given an explanation may be often necessary, and there is nothing to prevent its being asked. lam speaking of comments.—l may state that as far as I know I have never commented on a decision of Judge Ward's except in reply to the statement which he put before the Minister of Justice. Afterwards it became necessary if that decision was called in question amongst Ministers in Cabinet to discuss such a question. Up to the 28th May—l may say up to the present moment—l havo not in public commented on Judge Ward's decision that I am aware of. There is another question I would remark upon if you will allow me to make another statement. It is rather a correction of something that I said in my speech in the House of Representative?, The matter escaped my recollection while I was speaking. I stated that I had had only one conversation with Mr Newton. I remember that on the Saturday I met him in the street at lunch time. He was 'talking about the case. He mentioned the matter of the "Agency" of Christie, which had a good deal to do with the case. Ho said the Judge was very hostile to him on that point, I had not time to hear all that he had to say, but while going down in the train that afternoon my mind was directed to the matter by a conversation with a gentleman who was in the train. I thought that the Judge had misconceived the whole position, and I sent a telegram to Mr Newton. With regard to the statement that I had prompted questions in Court, it is devoid of truth. I never prompted a single question. Mr Bartleman says I was present. " Mr Hislop was in Court several times during the hearing; I cannot say how long." To the best of my recollection I not only never prompted, but I never suggested any question during the examination by counsel. The only matter bearing on this is what I suggested in my speech, to the effect that when Mr Newton finished his acldresß, I went forward to him and spoke to him. In his closing remarks he made reference to a difference of statement with regard to certain matters between Mr Christie and Mr Bartleman. This matter had formed the subject of conversation generally, for it was stated in the town that Mr Bartleman'B evidence had been contradicted by his own writing, and I asked " Is not that borne out by his own letter ?" That was the only remark I made to counsel in Court during the whole time of the hearing of the case with regard to it. I went forward to counsel on two occasions altogether ; once when I made this remark and passed on to my partner to make an appointment with him for that evening, and the other was when I went forward the next day to tell him I was going to Dunedin. The whole time I was in Oamaru was only a day; a little more than a halt out of the four or five days this case was before the Court.

Hon. the Chairman : Did you see Christie during that time ?—Yes, on the Saturday I saw him, and had some conversation with him. I met him at luncheon. I met him at other times, but had very little conversation with him. I was careful what I did, as I had made up my mind not to take any part in the conduct of the case, partly because I knew that adverse comment had been made upon a member of the late Government for having appeared as solicitor and counsel in cases in the District Court, it not being considered right for a member of the Government to appear in the inferior Courts.

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Bibliographic details

MR HISLOP'S STATEMENT., Evening Star, Issue 8005, 6 September 1889

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MR HISLOP'S STATEMENT. Evening Star, Issue 8005, 6 September 1889

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