asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is the fact, as stated in the "Manchester Courier" of July 1st, that in the case of the International Cockfight at Weaverham the bench decided that the names of the persons taken down by the police as present should not be made public; whether it is true, as stated in the same paper, that twenty-six summonses against persons described as being "gentlemen of influence and position in the county," have been withdrawn; and, whether the Government have taken any steps to bring these so-styled influential persons to justice?
Sir, the report referred to by my hon. Friend is inaccurate in all essential particulars. The prosecution was instituted at the instance of the Chief Constable of the Cheshire police, who instructed a solicitor of great experience to conduct the proceedings. The summonses were issued on the 24th. May against all persons who had been identified by the police as having been present on the occasion. It appeared, however, that only three summonses had been served by the 4th of June, when the Petty Sessions were held; and on that day the solicitor recommended, for the purpose of better securing the conviction of all concerned, that these summonses should be withdrawn, and that a fresh summons should be issued against one of the defendants who appeared to be the principal, inasmuch as he was the owner of the premises in which the cock-fight took place. On his conviction, they could better proceed against the other persons as aiders and abettors. The Chief Constable acted upon that advice, and summonses were accordingly issued against him for the next Petty Sessions, which sat on the 30th June, and he was then tried and convicted in the heaviest penalty authorized by the Act. Summonses were then taken out against all the persons known by the police to have been present, as aiders and abettors, and their cases will be investigated at the next Petty Sessions which will be held upon the 28th of this month. It was with the full consent of the solicitor conducting the prosecution that the names of these persons were withheld; he considered not only that the publication of the names was altogether unnecessary to the prosecution he was then conducting against the principal, but that silence on the subject would be serviceable to the interest of the prosecution itself.