The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64
Election Petition. — Willis and Others Against Watt
Willis and Others Against Watt.
The hearing of the Petition preferred by Messrs A. D, Willis, John Ballance, and S. H. Manson against the return of Mr W. H. Watt as M.H.R. for the Wanganui Electoral District was opened last Wednesday at 10 o'clock in the Supreme Courthouse, before their Honours Chief Justice Prendergast and Mr Justice Gillies. Mr Robert Stout, Hon P. Buckley, and Mr Maclean appeared for the petitioners; and Mr Fitzherbert for the respondent. There was a large attendance of the general public.
Mr Fitzherbert said that assuming the petitioners were in the position of plaintiffs and the respondent of a defendant, there were several points he wished to raise in connection with the petition itself, though he did not know what particular rule there was as to when they were to be raised. One point was in connection with the particulars delivered in connection with the petition. The third paragraph of the latter charged the respondent with committing bribery by one John Anderson by promising to obtain places of employment for certain persons. In the particulars upon which the petitioners intended to rely, acts were mentioned quite outside of the petition, although the rules provided that the latter was to state the facts and grounds upon which the petitioners rely. In the particulars in the present case the allegations of attempted bribery of persons named Middleton and Askew were expanded into charges of attempted bribery of other persons who were not mentioned in the petition itself.
His Honor enquired if the respondent had not obtained an order for particulars, as he had drawn the order up himself?
Mr Fitzherbert replied in the affirmative. But the point was that His Honor the Chief Justice who made the order had power merely to direct particulars and not to enlarge the petition, and that the latter matter was one for the Court itself.
His Honor said that the form of order followed the English practice.
Mr Fitzherbert pointed out that the result of the present flaw was that between the date of the petition and the filing of the particulars, the petitioners were able to hang on fresh charges to the petition.
Mr Justice Gillies was against Mr Fitzherbert on that point, as although the petition contained a general allegation of bribery, it was always some time before the definite charges leaked out.
His Honor the Chief Justice said that the Court ruled against Mr Fitzherbert on the preliminary objection raised by him.
Mr Buckley then opened the petitioners' case by reading the petition, and laying before the Court the particulars filed by virtue of the order.
Mr Stout said that the enquiry would take three branches:—bribery, undue influence, and intimidation and agency, as to the last of which he presumed it was not disputed, Mr Anderson being one of Mr Watt's leading supporters. Mr Watt does not appear to have wished to come forward till the last minute, and when he did so Mr Watt did not run the election, but the Committee ran Mr Watt, No charge would be brought against Mr Watt, who simply stood by and allowed his supporters, of whom Mr Anderson was the most energetic and zealous (though his zeal was not tempered with much discretion) to place him at the head of the poll. The particular charges which would be produced were simply samples of what generally took place at this election, though it had been decided in the Stanmore case, and in fact as stated in the Act that it was only necessary to bring forward a single clearly-proved instance to render the election void. Some of the witnesses brought forward might be treated as hostile, as they might not wish to admit having been bribed in the manner Mr Anderson was alleged to have gone about and operated upon them. He (Mr Stout) would not now go into cases of undue influence, but he would simply mention small instances in Home cases which had set an election aside, and compared with which the charges in the present petition were serious. The bribery and intimidation witnesses were so mixed up that it would be impossible to separate the branches of evidence, and as to formal matters he presumed the other side would admit them.
Mr Fitzherbert would not admit the service of the petition.page 6
Mr Stout asked why his learned friend appeared there at all. It Was absurd; to dispute the service, after having aetually pleaded to it?
Mr Justice Gillies:—If you were not served, Mr Fitzherbert, why are you here?
Mr Fitzherbert said that a certain paper no doubt was served, but it not contain a copy of the proper endorsement, in consequence of which the respondent had been put to certain costs in obtaining information.
Mr Justice Gillies:—That may be a question for the Court as to costs, but cannot interfere with these proceedings.
Mr Fitzherbert then intimated that he would admit the issue of the writ and the holding of the election.
The following evidence was then called for the petitioners:—Garland W. Woon (examined by Mr Stout) said that he was both Returning Officer and Registrar of Electors. The election was held on the 9th December last, the poll being declared on the 13th. The result was a majority in favor of Wm Hogg Watt by 4 votes, the actual numbers being Watt 397, Ballance 393. Mr A. D. Willis, one of the petitioners, was an elector in the district, his No. being 1065. So also was S. H. Manson, No. 633. There were on the roll persons named Boswell Middleton, No 705, and described as a clerk; Wm. Askew, No. 34, laborer; Owen Igoe, No. 507, laborer; George Friend, No. 360, groom; Peter Doddy, No. 288, bootmaker; Nicholas Henry, No. 447, bootmaker; Wm. Middleton, No. 706, bootmaker; Wm. Henry Flyger, No. 347, clothier; Geo. Flyger, 346, draper; Edward Moult, No. 728, carpenter; Wm. Jas. Blick, No. 90, laborer. Witness had not the list, and could not, therefore, say whether any of these persons voted.
James Alexander, sen., was called, but did not appear.
John Bennie, examined by Mr Stout, deposed that he was a merchant. I am not aware whether I was a member of Mr Watt's committee, or that there was any committee room. I was at a meeting of persons. (Mr Stout having a difficulty in inducing the witness to answer the last question remarked that when a person in Mr Bennie's position refused to answer it showed what difficulties had to be met with in bribery cases). There Were present at the meeting Jas. Alexander, Wm. Alexander, John Sharpe, and several others, but I do not know their names, though I had seen them before. Witness had been out and in town since the election. Writing was done in the room by Wm. Alexander. I do not recollect whether minutes were taken. (Mr Stout reminded the witness that, being on his oath, he must tell the truth whatever the consequences might be). Wm. Alexander might have been writing love letters for all I know. (Laughter). I did not know what he was writing. I attended the meeting of my own free will, being the one who seconded Mr Watt's nomination. I do not call the meeting a committee meeting, but a "meeting of supporters." I saw no rolls present. I attended four or five of these meetings after the nomination, but I cannot say on what day of the week. Some of these meetings were held at the Academy of Music. We had an office at Mr Jackson's. "We" are the "supporters." It was never called a committee in my hearing, but "friends, supporters, and electors." At some of the meetings rolls were produced for the purpose of seeing who was on the roll, and how many, it took some time, and those who were favorable, and those against us, ticked off. I will swear I never got any circulars from Mr Alexander, but when we met one night we adjourned to another. When the lists were ticked off I never had one of them. I can't say that I canvassed. I spoke to several about the town. (The witness was asked if he did not call that canvassing, and replied that he did not call it anything at all.)
By the Court:—I did speak to several people about their votes.
Mr Justice Gillies observed that canvassing frequently meant a systematic business.
Mr Stout said they should be able to show that it was in this case very systematic indeed.
Examination continued:—I went with Mr Anderson, a gentleman who runs a cabinetmaker's shop, to the railway workshops. We looked at the new engines. Mr Anderson got an order there for some cabinetware. He talked there about the election work. The parties at the workshops were all strangers to me, and Anderson talked to perhaps half a dozen of them about the election. They stopped their work. My back was turned, and I was speaking to other parties. I heard Anderson talk about the election, and the four men he was speaking to, said they were going to vote for Mr Watt. That was all I heard. It was well known all through Wanganui that Anderson was going to vote for Watt, because he was present at the meetings of supporters. I never saw Anderson driving about the town procuring voters, but I did so to take my friends to the poll. I I did not hear Anderson ask the railway men to refrain from voting. I cannot say whether they did vote or not. I was present at Mr Watt's meeting when he addressed the electors. Messrs Bryce, Pharazyn, and Duigan were on the platform. There might have been half-a-dozen. Possibly Mr Anderson was amongst them, but I am not sure. I was never present at a meeting when Anderson did any writing, or Wm. Alexander was not there. No arrangement was made at any meeting to bring up voters. Everyone was to come at his own free will. Several others besides myself drove up electors to the poll. Mr Alexander and Mr Peter Bell did so. When we were at the railway workshops I page 7 had no roll, and I can't say whether Anderson had one. I asked him to go to the workshops. I did not know that he had been going to other people before that. We went both together to 10 or 12 people. I don't remember accompanying anyone else round. I was present with Mr Alexander when they requested Mr Watt to come forward. Anderson was not present, then, and I do not remember his being present on another occasion of the sort. I do not know how persons were brought up to the nomination to hold up their hands for Mr Watt. I met Mr Watt casually on the street and asked if he were coming forward and he said he had made up his mind to do so. This was on the morning of the domination. I cannot say whether Anderson was at the nomination. When it was all over I .went straight home. There was a meeting the same night called by advertisement at which nearly 50 were present. This was held at the Academy of Music. I do not know who took an active part in getting it up. I told Mr Watt the hall was at his service if he wanted it. Mr Jackson gave the use also of his office. I do not know who erected the stage at Mr Watt's public meeting, nor whose was the furniture on it, nor did I hear that Mr Anderson wanted to take it away after the meeting. I will swear I cannot name one person who took an active part on Mr Watt's behalf in the election, but everyone of his supporters worked very hard. Mr Anderson did not take a more active part than anyone else. (The witness was not cross-examined.)
James Alexander gave evidence as follows, examined by Mr Stout:—I was not chairman or secretary of Mr. Watt's committee; but I attended the meetings. I think Mr Duigan took the chair I did not issue a circular, but I and others asked my son to do so. Mr Anderson might have been one of those who asked. I do not remember seeing or sending for Mr Anderson on the day of nomination. Since the election, I do not remember saying that Anderson may have done well in getting so many votes, but I may have said he was an active canvasser. Molls were produced at the committee meetings, and lists handed to persons to take out. I do not remember Anderson's list. I was at three meetings. The lists were got out at the second meeting, when probably 40 persons were present. I believe my son was secretary. Perhaps he was appointed, and perhaps not, but at any rate he took notes. I do not remember Mr Chadwick or anyone else being treasurer. The names on the roll were read out, and each man took a certain number. I took perhaps 20 or 30. Anderson and Bennie may have taken lists. I did not drive about on the day of the poll. Anderson was trying to get as many persons up to the poll as possible, and Mr Watt may have seen him doing so. There were many little meetings about the matter in the streets. I do not recollect Anderson coming up when Mr Watt and myself were together, My son was always present at the meetings I was at and He signed circulars is Secretary. I was ai the meeting, but not on the platform, when Mr Watt addressed the electors. Mr Anderson may have been on the platform. Messrs Carson, Chad wick, Duigan, and Phtrazyn were there, and so might Messrs Bennie and Anderson. I heard that Anderson put up the staging at the meeting, but it was never mentioned whose furniture it was. I do not know whether Mr Watt personally canvassed, but I expect he did. I whs not one of the gentlemen who asked him to stand, and I do not think anyone else did. He told me he intended to stand and I promise to support him. I heard that Mr Anderson went to got a few persons to the show of hands, but I cannot say from whom. It might have been from Mr Watt but not from Mr Anderson.
By Mr Fitzherbert:—The nomination of Mr Watt was very sudden. There was a Tegular Committee asked to sit by circular.
By Mr Stout:—I believe the Sec. signed the circular. I never was asked, but went voluntarily. A good many others responded to the call. Mr Anderson was certainly at the second meeting.
Joseph Chad wick said:—I was at; the meet ting on the platform when Mr Watt addressed the electors. Amongst those also, on the platform were Messrs Pharazyn, Carson, and Duigan, but I cannot recollect any more. Bennie was likely to have been there, as also was Anderson, but I can't swear to it. I was sitting on the side of the platform with ray back to the rest who Were there, but I saw them when I turned round and heard their voices. The tiret meeting I attended was in the street. Mr Alexander and Mr went down with me to the hitter's office and met Mr Bennie. All of us were not present at once. A good many brought up persons to the nomination to hold up their hands for Mr Watt. I saw Mr Anderson that day in the street, and he said that he would do all in his power to promote the election of Mr Watt. I was present at a meeting at Mr Jackson's office of which I heard in the streets. I got no circular. 50 or 60 were present. Anderson may have been there but I didn't see him. He was in continual talk with me and others who were promoting the election. I never saw him with Mr Watt. On the polling day he was busy bringing up votes. I don't remember seeing him in a trap the whole day. He was too busy with the election. He took a very active part, but no more than I did .Mr John Watt was also very active, and Mr Alexander and his son, and Mr Sharpe, Mr Liffiton, Mr Brechin, Mr Thos. Reid, and others were most active. So also were most of the respectable men in Wanganui. (Loud laughter.) I headed the list. (Prolonged laughter). I never called at the railway workshops and don't Know who did. I under page 8 took to see a lot of people and the other members of the committee did likewise. I was not the treasurer, and no money at all transpired.
This witness was not cross-examined.
Wm. Alexander said:—I was the Secretary of Mr Watt's Committee, of which Mr Duigan was Chairman. The first general meeting was called by circular by me, at the suggestion of those present at the preliminary meeting. At the latter meeting (which was held on the day after the nomination) there were present Mr Watt (the candidate), and others. I took down a few minutes, but they were destroyed about 10 days after the election. Messrs Chadwick and Thos Reid were there. Mr Anderson came in at the close of the meeting. I suggested the names of some to be invited to the preliminary meeting, as also did Mr Watt. The preliminary meeting was held at Mr Liffiton's. I do not recollect whether we all afterwards adjourned to an hotel. We may have done so. At the next meeting the rolls were gone over, and several took lists. Mr Watt probably was there, but I cannot say for certain. He was present at one or two of the meetings. On the polling day I drove about in a trap to bring up voters. Sometimes Mr Anderson told me where I was to stop. I do not know any railway workshops though I believe there are some. I had no conversation with Anderson about the railway men, and I do not know if they voted. I voted myself, and that is the only man I do know of. (Laughter.) I cannot say Anderson was more active on Mr Watt's behalf than others, but he was one of the most active. When we were in the buggy Anderson brought up a man named Potto.
By Mr Fitzherbert. The meeting: at Mr Liffiton's was called by advertisement. (Herald produced and put in.) I do not know who inserted it. Circulars were sent to persons who were not present at the pre-liminary meeting. The business was over when Mr Anderson came in.
By Mr Stout:—I never heard that Mr Watt inserted the advertisement.
Mr Stout said that he should now call witnesses who would speak both as to agency and bribery and corruption.
Mr Fitzherbert called the attention of the Court to the fact that all the charges in this petition were directed against one man, and although it was competent for the trial to proceed without express agency being established, he would ask whether in this case it should not first be clearly shown before the charges were gone into.
Mr Stout was at a loss to conceive what stronger evidence of agency could be given than had been shown. He had other witnesses whom he could call, and he could also adduce cases to show that far less evidence than had already been adduced, had been held sufficient.
Mr Justice Gillies was at a loss to see how the evidence given could be held to establish agency. Mr Stout need not quote cases.
His Honor said with reference to what Mr Fitzherbert had said the Court saw no reason why the petitioners should not proceed with their case in their own way.
Boswell Robert Middleton deposed as follows:—I am a clerk, resident in Wanganui, and a voter on the roll. I know a man named Wm. Askew, who brought me a message on the day before the election from Mr Anderson. I did not see Anderson that day, but did so on the following day. He was on the Quay, close to the Pier Hotel. He said to me, "I sent to see you at the Custom House Hotel last night, but you were out. Did you see Askew?" I said, "Yes; he came down to see me." He said, "Then you know the message?" I told Anderson that Askew had informed me that if I would vote for Mr Watt, and use my influence with the discharged soldiers, he (Anderson) would give me his book-keeping to do and get me other work besides. At the time I was not in work. Anderson said tome "That's all right; come in and have a liquor." I went into the Pier Hotel. Anderson paid. What Askew told me in the Custom House Hotel was what I repeated to Anderson. We had drink on that occasion and Askew paid.
By Mr Fitzherbert:—I am a clerk, but have been out of employment for some little time. I have had business lately to do with discharged soldiers. I am partly employed with Mr Jackson at the Pier Hotel, but my last regular employment was with Mr Mitchell, the butcher. During the last four or five years I have been in five different employments, varying from 12 months to two weeks. During the last nine months I have had no regular employment. The conversation with Anderson on the day of the polling was in the morning about half-past 10 or 11 on Taupo Quay in the street. No one was present but Anderson and myself, and I am sure we had only one conversation. When we had the drink, the landlord (Mr J. W. Jackson, and Mr Stretch were in the bar when when we went in. I will swear I never saw Stretch in the street when the conversation with Anderson took place. When I met Auderson I did not say "I have just voted for Mr Watt, I am working for him "or words to that effect. I voted that day, after I had seen Anderson. 1 told him at the time I was just going down to vote.:—Mr Fitzherbert was proceeding to ask for whom the witness voted, but Mr Stout objected to the question as irrelevant to the inquiry, the seat not being claimed, and it having been so ruled by other Judges in the Wakanui and Stanmore petitions.:—Mr Fitzherbert said that he merely asked the question as bearing on the credibility of the witness.:—Mr Justice Gillies:—I suppose with a view of showing that if he page 9 lied te Anderson on that occasion he might be doing so now.:—His Honour the Chief Justice said that the objection to the question was not only its irrelevancy, out also to its being a violation of the secrecy of the ballot.:—Mr Fitzherbert said his question was not an idle one, having reference to the witness' political proclivities but evidence would be called in connection with it.:—Mr Stout said that another case was that this was only secondary evidence, the best being the production of the ballot paper.:—His Honour the Chief Justice asked how the question could be relevant?:—Mr Fitzherbert said that it would lead to evidence being given as to subsequent statements by witness. He would, however, put another question first). I do not remember telling Mr Kearse, the butcher, in January last, that I had voted for Mr Ballance, but it is possible I may have done so. (Mr Fitzherbert then said that he proposed now to ask Middleton if he was telling Kearse the truth.:—Their Honors referred to the Act and consulted together, and decided that, as at present advised, they could not allow the question to be put. But they would hear Mr Fitzherbert on the same question if he could produce further evidence later on.:—Mr Justice Gillies said the question was quite contrary to the spirit of the Ballot Act, and the purpose could be just as well served by the production of evidence as to contradictory statements.:—Mr Fitzherbert said that he should be sorry to put any question to a witness from an inquisitorial point of view. Examination continued: I did not tell Kearse that I was working for Mr Ballance at the election. I did not work for either candidate. I communicated the purpose of Askew's message to Anderson on the following day. I received the message in the Custom House Hotel, from Mr Askew, shortly before Mr Ballance's public meeting on the previous evening. After the conversation with Anderson on the following day, my next interview with him was his meeting me in the Avenue a few days afterwards, and saying, "If you're coming up my way, call in." I do not recollect whether anyone else was present on that occasion. I did not call in, and never had any further communication with Anderson. I did send a massage by Askew to Anderson some time after the election. (Message written inside an envelope produced). The message is in my handwriting. (The contents were a request to lend witness £2 as he was in difficulties). This message was sent after I had seen Anderson in the Avenue. After this I sent no further communication by Askew. I did not get the £2 and have never borrowed any money from Anderson. Prior to sending this note I saw detective Sullivan several times, but I swear he never spoke to me about the election I knew him well. I will swear I was never asked by Sullivan to get up cases, (Mr Stout asked if Sullivan was here, as insinuations of the sort were being made.:—Mr Fitzherbert said that his examination was according to instructions). I was never offered money by Sullivan for getting up cases. I never saw Sullivan speaking to other persons about such matters.:—Mr Stout objected to this line of examination as irrelevant to the credibility of the witness and having nothing to do with the enquiry.:—Mr Fitzherbert said that the witness could only speak as to what came within his own knowledge.:—Mr Stout said that what the witness saw was that Sullivan had nothing to do with the enquiry. Was Sullivan in Wanganui?:—Mr Fitzherbert believed that he was not. But he wished to show how this petition had originally been got up.:—Mr Stout objected to evidence of the sort, and Mr Justice Gillies asked what it had to do with the enquiry?:—Mr Fitzherbert said that his object was to discredit the present witnesses and others who might be called. At the same time the Court would not ask him at this early stage of the enquiry to disclose the nature of the defence to the petition.:—Mr Stout remarked that although this witness' evidence could be tested as to his own credibility, it could not discredit that of other witnesses yet to be called.:—After some further discussion on this point, the Court said that although they had some doubt upon the point, they thought Mr Fitzherbert might proceed with his enquiry.:—Examination continued: I am not aware that Sullivan took an active part in getting up the petition. I had no conversation with him about the evidence. At the time I sent the written message nor at any other time did I say I was going to receive money for getting up cases. I will swear that I have never received any promise or inducement from a single soul in connection with this petition. The answer I received by Askew to the written message sent to Anderson was "He couldn't do it." I never received any employment from Anderson as book-keeper, and not to my knowledge did he endeavor to procure any for me elsewhere. I am a very old soldier, and have been trying to get the land from the Government, which they are entitled to. I have none of my own to receive, but I presume I shall be paid for what I do for others. For keeping Mr J. W. Jackson's books I sometimes get money, sometimes nothing, and sometimes a glass of beer. (Laughter). I subsist also on my private means. I sent for the loan of £2 because I wanted it, and because I thought he would lend it. I had no particular reason for applying to him, and I might have sent it to you or anyone else. (Laughter). I had an idea that Mr Anderson would let me have the £2. I believe I sent an application about that time to another party:—I think it was George Brough, but he had not got the money.
Wm. Askew was called but did not appear. Mr Stout said that as he believed Askew and other witnesses had been tampered with, the witness, who had been subpœned, page 10 should be compelled to attend.:—His Honor the Chief Justice did not see what power the Court had, unless it was shown that an organised attempt to keep witnesses away was in existence.:—Mr Stout could not go quite as far as that upon his present instructions. At the same time, if a witness did not attend he could be taken up for contempt He would, however, call another witness pending the arrival of Askew.
C. S. Cross stated:—I was Chairman of Mr Ballance's committee at the last election. I know Mr John Anderson. On the nomination day I saw him on the Quay several times, and he was taking a great interest in the election. I was present at Mr Watt's meeting. About 8 or 9, including reporters, were on the platform. Anderson was one of them. I met him on the Monday after the election and he twitted me on being chairman of the committee. He said he was one of Watt's most active men, and they had beaten us. I said, "I know that, but you needn't crow over it."
By Mr Fitzherbert:—I was an active supporter of Mr Ballance, on thorough Liberal principles. I was not in the least sore over the defeat, only lost a new hat over the election.
George Friend (examined by Mr Buckley) deposed:—I am a groom, and am on the electoral roll. I voted at the last election. On the day before I saw Mr Anderson. He came to me at the Albion stables and called me out, and said that Mr Bryce had sent him to me to know about my grievance as to my discharged soldiers' land. I know Mr Bryce as a member of the Ministry, and that Mr Ballance was on the opposition side. I said, "Mr Bryce does not know anything about me." Anderson said, "He's the man to take your claim before the House." I said "My claim has been down at Wellington for some time, and it was no good my bothering my head about it any longer." I told him all the particulars of my case, and he said "If Mr Bryce does'nt take your case before the House next session, I guarantee you £5 out of my own pocket." I said that Mr Ballance said that a Royal Commission was to be selected to enquire into the discharged soldiers' land. Anderson repliad "That's what Mr Ballance tells you:—and what has he done for the people of Wanganui." I said, "I suppose as much as any other man." He said, "Who are you going to vote for:—Mr Watt ?" This was after the conversation as to the £5. I said I would not vote for Mr Watt. Anderson went on to say that if I altered my mind I was to go down to his office. Mr Hatrick came in with some hay and straw for the stable, and Anderson said to him, "Here's a man wavering as to who he is to vote for." Hatrick said, "I suppose he ought to go for the best man." The day after the election Anderson came to me in the stable yard again and said that Mr Bryce had sent him again, and that when he came before to ask me to vote for Mr Watt and guaranteed the £5, it was not by way of a bribe. I said, "I don't know whether you did or not, but I've never been bribed by high or low yet."
Cross-examined by Mr Fitzherbert:—I have repeated the conversation as near as I can give it. Except Hatrick nobody was present. Another man, Eaton, was in the stable yard. Hatrick was not present when anything was said as to the £5. When Anderson came the day after, no one was present. I subsequently saw Anderson in Cook's Gardens about the 18th of January. He and Mr Parkes were sitting down together. He said "I hear you've laid a complaint against me about the election." I replied "I don't know." Detective Sullivan came to me after the election and asked me if I would mind making a statement of what Anderson said to me the day before the election. Anderson said he thought Sullivan had very little to do, and asked me if he (Anderson) offered me the £5. I said that he did not, but made me a guarantee of that amount, and that I knew what that offer meant. I never had any other conversation with Mr Anderson. I told Sullivan what Anderson said to me. I saw Sullivan on another occasion, when he asked me if I could make an affidavit if brought to Court.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.
On resuming at two o'clock the following further evidence was taken.
Wm. Askew was called, and on entering the box enquired what he was called for:—Mr Stout remarked that the witness was about to gain experience.:—Mr Justice Gillies said that the witness would have to swear to tell the truth.:—The witness remarked that he didn't know what truth he was going to tell. The witness then had the oath administered to him by the usher of the Court, who had great difficulty in inducing him to kiss the book. The witness' manner was so peculiar that he was cautioned by Mr Jnstice Gillies before proceeding with his evidence. The witness then deposed as follows:—I was on the electoral roll at the last election. I am a laborer, doing any kind of work I can get. I know Mr Anderson by sight. (Mr Anderson was pointed out to the witness.) I should not know Mr Anderson from his brother who lives on Taupo Quay. I did two days' gardening work about two months ago for the Mr Anderson who lives in Wilson Street. It was soon after the election. I had worked for Mr Anderson 3 or 4 years ago, but not between then and 2 months ago. I employed a man to assist me in the gardening work by mowing the grass, which is a speciality I was not up to. The man's name was Billings, and he had been doing Mr Anderson's work before I went there. It was about two or three days after the election that I was employed to do the gardening. I saw Mr Anderson and spoke to him before the election, in Wilson Street, page 11 where I stop. I was in the army once, and wish I was now. I was a sergeant, and entitled to some land which I have not yet got. I am not aware whether Mr Anderson knew I was a soldier. When he called in Wilson Street he was speaking to a young woman. (Laughter.) I spoke to him afterwards. He asked me for whom I intended to vote. I said to Mr Ballance. He said he or they could get my land as well as Mr Ballance could. I replied that I would not trust to Mr Bryce to get my land, and if I don't get it I'll write to the Queen of England. I intend to do this by and bye (Laughter), as I have fought for her. What took place next I can't say unless you give me a hint. (Laughter). Anderson said that if Mr Bryce did not get my land order when Parliament met and send it to me by one of the Government officials, he (Anderson) would give me £5 out of his own pocket. I got no money from him on that occasion. I did not get the £5, but I shall get it by and bye (Laughter), as it is only a bet. (Laughter). (Mr Stout:—Or something that we call by another name). I got a shilling from Mr Anderson for a drink, but I borrowed it as a man from a man. This was after the election, and I will swear I got nothing before it. I know a Mr Middleton. I gave him something to eat and drink in the Custom House Hotel on the day before the election. I went down to see him of my own accord about the election. I went to the hotel because Middleton stopped there, not because I wanted anything to drink. (Laughter). I said to Middleton that if he got plenty of work he would be a better man than he was now; and that I had a message for him from Mr Anderson who wanted to see him. Anderson had said to me that he wanted to see Middleton to give him his work as he was not satisfied with the man he had. I recommended Middleton (Laughter) as I like to see a poor man getting on in the world. I told Middleton that Anderson wished to give him work, and of course election matters came up. I asked Middleton for whom he was going to vote, and told him Anderson was trying to get votes, for Watt, though he did not get them for all that (Laughter), so as to provide plenty of work and plenty of money. I paid for the drinks Middleton and I had on the night before the election. I never borrowed any money from Anderson till after the election, when he lent me 2s 6d, which I repaid. The garden work was done after the election but I was asked to do it before that. I did not do the work which was entirely mowing, but employed another man, who happened to have been already employed by Mr Anderson. I was paid 7s per day for supervising the work for two days and an hour. I received 15s in all, and out of it repaid the 2s 6d though I forget when. The Is I spent on Middleton and myself was my own, but before leaving Anderson to go to Middleton I told the former I had no money, simply to get some out of him.
By Mr Fitzherbert:—I saw Anderson the second day after the election when I went to work in the garden. I don't know what day of the week it was. I never expected to be here. (Laughter.) I employed Billings to do the mowing, but Billings paid me my money. (Loud laughter.) (The witness created some merriment by complaining that he had to reply to counsel on both sides,) It was by accident that I spoke to Billings, and give him the billet. I would not give him another one. Billings paid me in Wilson Street, and was going to pay me short wages, but I would not have it, because I found I had got to pay Mr Anderson the 2s 6d back again, which I did on the Monday evening, having borrowed it on the previous Saturday, being the day after the election. (The witness was pressed here as to dates, but his answers only rendered the matter more un-intelligible.) I do not know whether I took a letter from Mr Middleton to Mr Anderson; I might have done so. I do not recollect having any conversation with Anderson after the election, but I might have had one either at his place of business or private house. If I knew what side you were on I would tell you all about it. (Loud laughter). I am sworn to tell the truth, but tell me who you are first. (Laughter). I might have had a conversation with Mr Anderson shortly after the election, but I don't recollect. I had several interviews with Detective Sullivan, who is a very nice man, to whom I gave a pair of blue spectacles. I unfortunately lost 3s 6d through him. (Laughter). Detective Sullivan offered me money, but I am not going to get it. He came up to me one day and asked me about the petition, but I had no information for him. A week after he came to me and told me that if I did not tell him all I knew he would put me on the hill. I said, "Do you think I'm going to turn Irish informer; but I am destitute, and will take £200." (Laughter). He came down to me with a cheque on the Bank of N.Z. for that amount. It was signed "A. D. Willis," but I'm afraid I shan't get the money. (Laughter). Sullivan took the cheque away, saying that I should get the money when the affair was over. Sullivan said, "What am I to get for my trouble?" I replied, I am not a bad man, and you shall have £50." He said that it was too much (laughter); £20 or £30 would be sufficient, and could give the balance of the £50 to Father Kirk. (Loud laughter.) Sullivan went away to Wellington and Auckland, and I applied to Mr Willis about the cheque, but he knew nothing of it. I went to nobody but Mr Willis to ask about money. I asked him, but I wouldn't demean myself to apply to anyone else. I expect I shall never get that L200, (Laughter.)
By Mr Stout:—I made no secret of this cheque, but I told nobody on Mr Watt's Committee:—not even Mr Watt himself, Mr Alexander, or Mr Watt's lawyer. Lawyer page 12 Hutchison is the only lawyer I know. (Mr Stout remarked that this was a good thing for the witness.) I have had one pint of beer to-day, and paid for it. That is about all I had to drink. I did not drink with anybody to-day or get any more loans. I don't know when I spoke last about the cheque, nor to whom. I might have been in an office, but I signed no statements nor made my mark. Something might have been read over to me, but I don't remember.
By the Court:—It is about a month ago since I went to Mr Willis. When I saw Middleton at the Custom House Hotel I told him that I had a message from Anderson. Anderson requested me to go to Middleton, and say that he wanted to see him on account of the election. Anderson agreed that we should meet again in a quarter of an hour. The only message I got from Anderson was to pay for Middleton's drink, and keep him in conversation until Anderson was able to come down to the hotel. In the forenoon of the day I had had a conversation with Anderson about giving Middleton work. I I told the latter that Anderson would give him work if he voted and used his influence for Mr Watt, but Anderson did not tell me to give him such a message. Anderson did not come down to the hotel.
Mary Igoe, wife of Owen Igoe, of this town, examined by Mr Buckly, deposed:—I remember the day before the last election. Mr Anderson came to my house and asked me for my husband, who was away haymaking for Mr Morrow. I said he would be home about six o'clock. Anderson came again the next morning at 7 o'clock, and asked whom Mr Igoe intended to vote for. I replied that I didn't know. He said "if he comes with me I will give him a few shillings when it is all over, but not before, or they might count it bribery." I told my husband when he came home that evening what Anderson said. My husband had voted for Mr Ballance, before coming home in the evening.
By Mr Fitzherbert:—No one was present when Mr Anderson came on either occasion. I am quite sure of the words used by him when he came in the morning. He might have been in my house on that occasion for a couple of minutes, but I didn't watch the time. I have never been separated from my husband.
Mr Stout objected to the line of cross-examination, and the objection was sustained by the Court.
Peter Doddy, shoemaker, working for Mr Spriggins, said:—I am a voter for this electoral district and voted at the last election. The day before the election Mr Anderson came to the workshop. He passed the time of day with the men and sat down in their midst. He said "I suppose you are aware I am one of Mr Watt's Committee, and canvassing for Mr Watt. We have got all the respectable people in Wanganui and the shopkeepers) with the exception of eight.
I have got yout name, Henry, amongst the crowd, and I want you to promise your vote for Mr Watt." (This was addressed to a workman named Henry. The witness here further described other remarks of Anderson on the education question, the Catholics, and so forth). Henry said, "I've already promised my vote to the other man." Anderson said, "The only thing I want you to do is, if you can't vote for Watt, don't vote for Ballance, or go near at all, for if you working men will only stop away Watt will be returned." Henry said that it was quite likely he might not have time to get away, whereupon Anderson said, "I hope you won't get away, Henry, for if I thought so I'd come and order a pair of dancing boots, so that you shouldn't have time to getaway; in fact I'd order a pair for each of the three if I thought it would keep you from voting for Ballance, for I'd do anything rather than see that man go in to represent Wanganui." Besides Henry and myself, "Wm. Middleton was present. Anderson said, "I know I've no occasion to be uneasy about Middleton, as he is a staunch Watt supporter; and as for that young man on the right (meaning the witness) I know from his pleasant countenance that he is right too." (Laughter). Some further conversation took place and Anderson left, asking us to think it over. Last Thursday evening Mr Spriggens came into the workshop and said that Anderson wanted to see me in the front shop. I went out to see him, and he asked me if I was going to be a witness in this case against him. I said it was the first I had heard about it, and that though I had made no statement there were some parties after me. He said, "Did I offer you boots," and I made no reply. "He said "Did I offer you gifts of any sort," and I replied that he did. Anderson said that it was false, and that he had asked Henry and Middleton, who denied it. I told him he could say anything as he was not in Court or on his oath. He said, "This is a very serious thing, and I am liable to get two years on the hill if it is proved against me. I asked how was that. He said that if the three men would swear against him he could not get out of it. I reminded him that he had said that Henry and Middleton denied that he had offered a gift. He asked if I had a spleen against him, which I denied, and said that I meant simply to tell the truth. He said there was a great deal in the manner in which a witness said a thing, and that as it was so long ago I might have a bad memory and say that I only believed so and so. He dictated to me the way in which I was to give evidence. (The Court stopped this line of examination as irrelevant.)
By Mr Fitzherbert:—Mr Spriggins' son was not in the room when the conversation about the boots took place. Henry, Middleton, and myself are all working for Spriggens, and are paid either by the day or the pair, page 13 averaging about the same every week. I am not aware whether Anderson did order any boots.
Nicholas Henry, also working for Mr Spriggens, described the interview with Anderson detailed by the last witness, and added :—"I told Anderson I could not break my word, and he said he did not ask me to do so. Since the election I have seen Mr Anderson in Mr Spriggen's shop and many times elsewhere. We have often conversed about the election. On one occasion I saw Anderson with Mr Watt's son in the latter's office. The object of the interview was evidently to find out the nature of the evidence I was about to give. They tried to pump me about it. Mr Borlase and others were also present.
By Mr fitzherbert.:—When Anderson said he would not ask me to break any word it was after I had said I would vote for Mr Ballance. When I told Anderson that I might not find time to go and vote, it was only said to put him off. I did vote on that day. I have made no boots for Mr Anderson.
Mr Stout was proceeding to ask some further questions of this witness when Mr Justice Gillies said that not only were any questions as to what took place after the election irrelevant, but the incident about the dancing boots appeared to him to be in the nature of a joke.
Mr Stout said that he did not admit that at all, but contended it was a serious matter.
Justice Gillies:—You must take firmer grounds than dancing boots, Mr Stout. (Laughter.)
Some discussion, raised by Mr Fitzherbert, took place at this stage as to the Court arrangements. Their Honors decided to adjourn at the conclusion of the petitioner's case. The witnesses for the defence were therefore discharged from attendance until the following morning.
His Honor Judge Gillies said that looking at the cases of intimidation mentioned in the particulars, it was very doubtful whether they came within the Act. They contained no threat to do anything or induce anyone else to do it, but simply the setting before certain men the probable and natural results of their acts, and this was not a threat.
Mr Stout said that there were several English cases which proved that an intimation to a voter that the effect of his action would be the loss of customers would be amply sufficient.
His Honor replied that whatever might be the case in the Home Country, nothing would ever make him believe that such an intimation amounted to intimidation in this Colony.
Mr Stout said the Court was bound to rely upon the English decisions as to what constituted corrupt practices.
His Honor said that they were not bound in New Zealand to slavishly follow decisions of particular Judges at Home that such and such a thing constituted corrupt practices.
Mr Stout said that anything which prevented freedom of election constituted undue influence, and it had been so laid down over and over again. Surely the intimation that if a person voted in a particular manner he would lose his customers was a distinct threat, just as much as in the Golway case, the election was voided because a priest stated that the offices of the Church would be refused. His Honor said that the particulars did not allege that the person making the supposed threat had said that he would take away his own custom, but simply had said what certain other people would do, which was merely a statement of something that had come to his knowledge.
Mr Stout argued that if this contention were right, there could be no such thing provable as a threat of loss of custom, and the English decisions were bad law.:—His Honor said that was not the inference. Those decisions were based upon the state of things existing at home, but here tradesmen were more independent.:—Mr Stout did not know about that. But Cunningham, on Elections, a great authority on electoral law, laid down plainly that the threat must be one which would influence the person's vote by affecting his business. The effect of the contention of the Court would be that the Corrupt Practices Act here would be far less stringent than that at home, and that small traders could be intimidated in New Zealand with impunity.:—His Honor Judge Gillies was still of opinion that at any rate the threat must be of the loss of the custom of the person making it, and that person was able to give effect to it.:—Mr Fitzherbert remarked that he had intended to have raised the same point which the Court had raised, when the defence was entered upon.:—Mr Stout said that it would be better to go on with the evidence, and discuss the law points further on, and the examination of witnesses was continued after some further discussion.
William Henry Flyger, shopman to his brother George Flyger, of the Avenue, deposed :—On the day before the election Mr Anderson was passing the shop door, where Mr Edward Howe was standing. He said to Mr Howe, "You need not bother with that man," meaning myself "as he is one of us." Anderson added, addressing himself to me, "Tell your brother George to be wise and vote for Mr W. H. Watt, as there are 60 odd of the Watt Committee have got him spotted, and will withdraw their support from him." I said that I would tell him. Anderson said that they would withdraw their support if my brother voted for Mr Ballance.
By Mr Fitzherbert:—The conversation took place at the shop door between 9 and 12 o'clock, in the presence and hearing of Mr Ed. Howe and myself. Mr Howe is rather hard of hearing. He did not answer Mr Anderson at all. When Howe was going away, Anderson asked him to use his influence page 14 with Geo. Flyger to get his vote. Since that occurrence Anderson has never asked me any questions about my evidence. I have seen Mr Lightband, Mr Lewis, and Mr Anderson speaking to my brother since the election, but not to myself. Mr Brechin has seen me and tried to draw something out of me, and I told him that I had tried hard to keep out of any election quarrel, but unfortunately had heard Anderson's remarks at the door. I have passed some remarks with Mr Purnell and Mr Cathro. I have said that it was very little use any person trying to intimidate me, as I had a mind of my own. I had never used a coarse expression about kicking such a person out of the shop. Anderson once came up to the shop and said "What is this your brother has been spreading about me." I replied that if anything of the sort had occurred it had come from me and not my brother. Mr Anderson was about to call me a liar, but it was just as well he did not. (Laughter.) If Mr E. Howe tells the truth he will corroborate the conversation with Anderson.
Geo. Flyger, tailor and clothier of the Avenue, said: I remember the day before the election. In consequence of my brother telling me of something which had taken place between him and Anderson, I met the latter. He said "look here, George, you're foolish if you vote at all, for the Watt Committee are an influential body." He also said "They have you spotted, and you'll lose a lot of custom by voting." I replied "I'll please myself about that," and sent my compliments to the Watt Committee, and added that they were not gentlemen.
By Mr Fitzherbert.:—The conversation took place by the Post Office, no one but Anderson and myself being present. Since the election Anderson called at my shop and asked what lie I was circulating about him. I replied "Mr Anderson, it is no lie, and I have spoken the truth which actually took place." He called me a liar, and I said "I can prove that I'm not the liar." The same afternoon I met Anderson in Guy ton Street. He seemed as though waiting to see me. He appeared to be agitated and apologised for calling me a liar, remarking that his word was as good as mine in Court. Messrs Light- band, Pollock, Currie and others were present when Anderson came to my shop and called me a liar. I never told Mr Anderson that he had not spoken to me but to my brother. I never told Mr Purnell such a thing, though I may have said I was sorry the case was coming on. Mr Jas. Anderson was present when the apology took place.
By Mr Buckley:—Anderson was very angry with mo at first, but has been very nice since he apologised, and I cannot say that he has withdrawn his custom.
Mrs Julia Moult said that she was the wife of Mr E. Moult of this town, storekeeper, a voter at the last election. A few days before the polling day Mr Anderson came to my shop, and asked me if my husband was going to vote. I said that I did not know. He told me that 73 of Mr Watt's Committee would go against him in business if he voted for Mr Ballance, and he had better therefore not vote at all.
By Mr Fitzherbert:—This took place in the afternoon. There was a Mrs Bason in the shop whilst Anderson was making his statement, but I do not know whether she could hear him. Mrs Prodesky and Miss Tidiman were not in the shop. The latter was my servant, and the former had been washing for me six weeks previously. I told Mrs Prodesky that she would have to go to Court as a witness, because at the time I was not certain about her being present. I never asked her or Miss Tedman to come and give evidence that they were there and heard the conversation.
By Mr Buckley:—I have no interest in the result of the petition, or any connection with the petitioners.
By the Court:—I do not know who were on Watt's committee, and cannot say therefore whether 73 of them were amongst my customers. My business is in grocery, stationery, and crockery. Mr Anderson was at that time a customer of mine, and has not ceased being so. (Mr Stout suggested that that might be because the case was not over.)
Wm. James Blick, night watchman, and an elector, said :—I am paid by the Fire Brigade, whose funds are collected by monthly and quarterly subsceiptions from storekeepers and others. Shortly before the election Anderson came to me at the corner of Guyton Street and the Avenue and asked me if I had promised my vote. I said I had done so to Mr Ballance. Anderson said "you're supported by the public and you are a public servant. By giving your vote to Mr Ballance you will very likely make ten enemies, while by giving it to Mr Watt you'll only make one. I advise you to re-consider your determination, and not vote at all."
By Mr Fitzherbert:—No one else was present. I am still night watchman and paid by the Fire Brigade.
C. S. Cross, recalled, said During the election, between the nomination and polling, I saw Mr Watt and Anderson together on Taupo Quay, and on another occasion I believe I saw them both in Mr Watt's office, when I called there. On the former occasion Anderson had in his hand what I surmised to be an electoral roll. I had a roll also in my own hand.
J. G. Sharpe deposed:—I worked on Mr Watt's behalf at the last election, and have taken a little interest in what has been going on since, having possibly had meetings with Mr Watt and Mr Anderson. I know William Henry Flyger and have seen him since the election. I went to his brother's place of business, but not in consequence of anything page 15 Messrs Watt or Anderson said to me. I may have said (and I will not swear I did not say) to Mr Flyger that it would be better for him to have visited the Hot Springs for the benefit of his health, instead of attending this Court. In any case the conversation was only of a promiscuous like kind.
The Chief Justice said that even if Mr Sharpe did persuade Mr Flyger to go away, the fact must be brought home to the respondent.
By Mr Stout:—I have met Mr Watt since the election, but I do not remember Mr Anderson being present. Mr Watt did not attend meetings very regularly, but left the matter with his Committee, knowing it was in good hands, (Laughter.) Mr Watt was not consulted as to fixing Committee meetings, and canvassing, engaging traps, and so forth There was a good deal taken off his hands. I am positive I never said to Wm. Flyger that money would be no object in the trip. I won't swear that I said nothing about money or about his health.
Michael Hogan, storeman for Mr F. R. Jackson, said:—There was a stage erected at Mr Watt's meeting, I superintending it. Mr Anderson was there giving instructions and assistance. There were tables, chairs, and carpets on the platform, which I brought from Mr Jackson's reading room. None of the furniture except the carpets came from Mr Anderson's. The carpet was removed after Mr Watt's meeting, but the rest were left till after Mr Ballance's. I will not be sure that Mr Anderson did not suggest taking away the staging when the carpet was removed.
By Mr Fitzherbert:—Mr Ballance's meeting used, by Mr Jackson's consent, all the articles except the carpet, glass, and candlestick.
This closed the petitioner's case, subject to the right of calling rebutting evidence.:—Mr Fitzherbert said he should not dispute that the election was properly held, or require any formal evidence.:—Mr Stout handed in for the inspection of the Court certain legal authorities quoted in the text books.
The Court then adjourned until 10 o'clock on the following morning.
The hearing of the petition against the return of Mr W. H. Watt as M.H.R. for the Wanganui Electoral district was resumed on Thursday. Their Honors the Chief Justice and Mr Justice Gillies took their seats at 10 o'clock. As before, Mr Robt. Stout and the Hon. P. Buckley appeared for the petitioners and Mr Fitzherbert for the respondent.
Mr Fitzherbert on the Judges taking their seats submitted that the petitioner's case had completely broken down on all the grounds of bribery, undue influence and agency. In proceedings of this sort he was entitled to ask for what might be described as a nonsuit. All the acts alleged to have been done are said to have been done not by Mr Watt himself but by one John Anderson as his agent. There was not one tittle of evidence against MrWatt on any of the charges. As to the question of agency, it should be borne in mind thar Mr Watt's candidature was a very hurried one, as could be inferred from the advertisement in the Herald of the 2nd inst. which showed that no Committee existed or no canvassing took place (even it did ever take place) until the 2nd instant, the election being on the 9th. The evidence of several witnesses showed that there was no regular Committee, and even if there were, no proof that Mr Anderson was connected with it. The so-called Committee seemed to be a scratch crew, every one going as he pleased to support Mr Watt, who was not responsible for any of their acts. Private individuals might have an interest in Mr Watt's return, but they were free lances altogether. There was no organization and no funds supplied, and anything done by Mr Anderson was not more than would have been done by any political supporter.
At this stage the Court interrupted Mr Fitzherbert and intimated that there was evidence of the charges of bribery, undue influence, and agency, the only question being its credibility. Air Fitzherbert therefore was not properly occupying the time of the Court.
[Mr Justice Gillies afterwards denied the Court had said there was evidence of intimidation].
Mr Fitzherbert said the Court being both Judge and Jury, he was entitled to ask whether there was any case for the respondent to answer.
Mr Justice Gillies said that the Court had to go beyond that, and hear both sides, even if the allegations were withdrawn.
The Chief Justice said that the Court had decided already that the statements in the particulars were capable of being interpreted as intimidation.
Mr Fitzherbert briefly intimated the nature of the evidence he was about to call, and reserved his further remarks till after the evidence had been closed. As to the two shoemakers, however, he thought he might ask the Court to decide that he had nothing to answer.
The Chief Justice intimated that Mr Fitzherbert had no right to ask the Court at this stage to decide upon such a point.
The witnesses called yesterday were discharged from attendance.
John Anderson was then examined by Mr Fitzhert. He said: lama cabinetmaker residing in Wanganui. I know Mr W. H, Watt, the respondent in this case. On the nomination day I met Mr Watt casually at the corner of the Avenue and Ridgway-street. He was with Mr Chadwick and one or two others. I think Mr Chadwick said, "Now Mr Watt, you're a plucky man, why don't you go in at the 11th hour and not let Wan-ganui go unopposed." This was within an hour and ten minutes of the nomination at noon. I said to Mr Watt "If you consent page 16 to do so, I will do what I can to bring about your return." I don't remember what took place after that, but Mr Watt left with Mr Chad wick and someone else, I think Mr Alexander. As there was no intimation of what was going to happen, I went round to a few people and asked them to come up to the nomination for the purpose of giving a show of hands. I was at the nomination myself.
By the Court:—Before I left Mr Watt I understood he consented.
Examination continued:—After the nomination I saw a notice in the papers (advertisement produced). I attended a meeting in consequence at Mr Liffiton's office. I came in just about the finish, having had business that evening. I was not present when any resolutions were passed. No business was done in my presence, and I received no circular or intimation from anybody. Subsequently I attended a meeting at the City Hall, Mr Bennie's property. I don't remember the date, but it was a day or two after the meeting at Mr Liffitons. I don't remember attending any other meetings. I was present at the public meeting in Mr Jackson's yard when Mr Watt addressed the electors. I took no part in the proceedings, but took a seat on the platform. The platform was erected by my employes and remained till after Mr Ballance's meeting. I allowed it to be used, but removed the carpet and some lamps. I was not present at Mr Ballance's meeting. The furniture was not supplied by me. If I met Mr Watt in the street casually I would speak sometimes to him about the election, but I never went into matters of detail. Mr Watt might ask me about his chances, but nothing beyond. I was aware Mr Watt was supporting the present Government, of which I am a supporter myself. I had known Mr Watt for 17 years, but a week or ten days before the nomination we had a little unpleasantness. As to the alleged bribe to Bos well Robert Middleton the only thing I had to do with him was that on the morning of the election I was walking along Taupo Quay in company with Mr Stretch, an employe of Mr Henry Hurley. I do not quite remember the time, but it was possibly about 10.30 in the morning. When we got pretty close to Mr Jackson's Pier Hotel, Mr Middleton came up to us and said "I've just voted for Mr Watt and am working for him." Mr Stretch was present the whole time, and everything said was in his hearing. I said "I'm glad to hear it." Stretch and I went into Jackson's Hotel for the purpose of having a glass of wine:—that being our intention before we met Middleton, who followed us in. I don't know whether he had a glass of anything or not, but I am quite certain I never asked him. Nothing further took place but casual talking about the election, and I saw nothing more of Middleton that day. The only time afterwards I spoke to him was in the Avenue, where he was speaking to a cabman. I never asked Middleton to call in as I wanted to see him. He never came in.
By Mr Justice Gillies:—I undercook to pay Mr J. B. Cathro's accounts who was in my employ, and going to file his schedule. Middleton had to collect one of Cathro's debts, a sum of 8s 6d, and I merely wanted to ask him the date of it. My speaking to him in the Avenue had reference only to this matter and not to the election.
Examination continued: I never saw Middleton before the day of the election, nor asked him for his vote or had any conversation with him at all. Neither directly or indirectly did I ever send any message to Middleton in connection with the election. I saw Askew the day before the election, but I had no conversation with him as to Middleton. I sent no message, verbal or by letter, by Askew to Middleton, before the election. I swear that positively. In Cook's Ward I was working for Mr Watt, and saw everybody, and I may have asked to see Mr Middleton to get his vote, but I never saw him, or went to any hotel or other place to see him, so far as I am aware. I never went in the evening to any place to see him. I never said that I went to see him. I gave no message of any kind, or money, to Askew, for Middleton. After the election I received a note purporting to come from Middleton. (Note produced asking for loan of £2.) Brockman, my manager, gave it to me. When it was handed to me I saw Askew in connection with it. He said, "I've brought this note from Middleton, one of our party, he's in trouble and wants £2." I said to Askew, "Why should I lend or give Mr Middleton £2?" He said, "Never mind why, I'm in a great hurry. You'd better do it, or you'll be sorry for it," I said, "What do you mean, Mr Askew ?" The note was received by me on the 28th December, but I won't swear positively to the date. Askew said, "Detective Sullivan has been to me and Middleton two or three times and had offered large sums of money if we would get up cases against you for the purpose of upsetting the election." I said, "What cases can you get up against me?" and I put the following questions to him: "Did I ever offer Middleton work through you, on condition that he would vote, for Mr Watt?" Askew's answer was, "I would swear on the Bible you never did. I told you once before so." I also asked, "Did I ever offer you Askew) work on condition you voted for Mr Watt?" He replied in the negative. I asked him, "Did I ever offer you any bribe, inducement, or employment to vote for Mr Watt?" He replied, "You did not." I further asked, "Did I ever offer to get you the land you are entitled to as a discharged soldier on the same condition?" He again replied in the negative. I then said, "Why do you want to get up cases against me? He said, "I'm an old soldier, page 17 Mr Anderson." I said, "What has that to do with it?" He replied, "You don't know old soldiers, or you would'nt ask that question." I said, "I know a great many old soldiers, but I cannot understand you." He said, "The fact of the matter is, Middleton and I are both poor men, and we've been offered by Mr Ballance between £200 and £300 to get up cases against you. Mr Ballance also promised to get back the land which Mr Hutchison took away from us." Askew also added something about Detective Sullivan which I do not remember, and said, "You'd better go to see Mr Watt, and ascertain what he's prepared to give." I declined to see Mr Watt, and ordered Askew off the premises. I did not give £2, or any other money. I had no communication, direct or indirect, with Middleton after this. On the 8th December I went to a house occupied by a Mr Crozier. I knocked at the door, which was answered by a Miss Garner. I asked for Mr Crozier. She replied, "He is at the slaughterhouse at Aramoho." I said I wish to see him about his vote. I then asked if Mr Askew was at the back, where he lives in a small cottage. She said, "Yes," and went to call him. Askew came up, and I asked him if he was going to vote for Watt. He said, "I've promised to vote for Mr Ballance, because he said he would get my land for me, which I am trying to claim as a discharged soldier." I said "Mr Watt will have as good a chance of advancing the old soldiers' claim as Mr Ballance, because he is friendly with the present Government and Mr Ballance is not." I don't remember whether I told Mr Askew that Mr Watt had said at a public meeting that he intended to bring their claims forward. Askew said that as Mr Watt was friendly with the present Government he thought he would vote for him. He then told me he was in great poverty and had been out of work for a long time, and asked me to give him a job I replied "It will not do to give you work just now, it might be said I'd given it you to induce you to vote for Mr Watt, but you can take a message to my old gardener, Mr Billings, and tell him I want him to do my garden. If he likes to employ you he can, but I will not do so."
By Mr Justice Gillies:—I did not say that if Mr Bryce did not get his land order I would give him £5 out of my own pocket. I said nothing of that sort on that occasion or any other.
Examination continued:—Nothing further occurred at the interview. Middleton's name never cropped up. The next time I saw Askew was when he was working in my garden for Billings. This was a few days after the election. Shortly after they had been at work, Askew came to me one evening and pleaded great poverty, asking me to lend him half-a-crown. I lent it to him. The next thing which took place was his coming to my place of business a day or two afterwards and saying "Some of Mr Ballance's party have seen me working in your garden, and they have offered me money to get up a case against you." He advised me to see Mr Watt. I told him that I had not offered him work as an inducement to vote for Mr Watt. He said he was aware of that but had been offered money. The next day, or a few days afterwards, Askew returned to the shop, and asked me if I had seen Mr Watt. I told him I had. He wanted to know if Mr Watt had acceded to his request, or something of that sort. He had not previously asked me to make any request to Mr Watt. I would not be sure of the exact words used by Askew on this occasion. I said "Look here, Askew, why do you want me to see Mr Watt "He said Detective Sullivan had been to him and had offered him money to get up cases against me. He told me then that Sullivan wanted him to lay information that I had offered him work as an inducement to vote for Mr Watt, and also that I had offered to get him the land. He told me something else in connection with Middleton's matters, but I cannot recall it to my recollection. He told me that they wanted him also to lay a charge that I had sent a message through him to Middleton offering the latter work. He asked me again to see Mr Watt. I inquired if the charges he had stated to me were true (putting the questions to him separately) and he said that they were not, but he had been offered large sums of money. I said "How is it you want to bring up charges which you deny." He again said he had been offered money and advised me to see Watt. After Askew left I spoke to my Manager, and saw Askew again a few days afterwards at my own house. He asked me if I had seen Mr Watt, and I replied in the negative. Similar questions were put to him as before. The next thing which took place was the interview already described as to Middleton's vote. At this interview Mr Brock man, my Manager, was present. He was in the store outside the shop, and in a position to hear what took place. I am not certain of the exact date, but Askew came to my residence and returned the 2s 6d four days after it was lent. No other loan, gift, or money, except the 2s 6d, passed between me and Askew. I paid Mr Billings for the work in the garden shortly after it was done. I paid him 27s 6d by cheque produced. Billings' mark is on the bask.
By the Chief Justice:—Billings is an old gardener, well known in the town. I do not know whether Askew knew him.
Examination continued:—I am not aware of having made other payment besides the 27s 6d, in respect of the gardening. Billings is my regular gardener, and I have him about once every two months. The work on this occasion was of the usual character. This closes all my transactions with Askew. As to the alleged promise to Owen Igoe or his page 18 wife, I went to his house on the evening before the election and saw Mrs Igoe, and asked if her husband was in. She said she expected him in soon, and I think I said I would return that evening. I went again the next morning, between 6 and 7 o'clock. I saw Mrs Igoe again, and asked her if her husband was in. She replied that he was away making hay for Mr Morrow. I mentioned to her that my business was to ask Mr Igoe about his vote. I said that very possibly I might take a trap and go up to see him during the day. That was the whole of the conversation. I did not go up to see him, forgetting to do so. I never saw Igoe or had any conversation with him about the election. Nothing was said to Mrs Igoe as to payment. As to the case of George Friend, I remember going to his stable-yard, I think on the day before the election. Friend was raking hay or straw for the purpose of drying it. I called him, and he left what he M as doing. I asked him if he would vote for Mr Watt. He replied, "I promised to vote for Mr Ballance, because he has promised to get me the land I am entitled to." I said "Why do you not see Mr Bryce, who is already returned, and is also a member of the Ministry?" He then commenced to tell me about his service in the army, which I don't remember, as I did'nt take much interest in it. I said, "If Mr Watt gees into the House, he will have as good a chance of advancing the claims of the old soldiers as Mr Ballance, because he is friendly with the present Government, and Mr Ballance is not "I said that Mr Watt had stated so at his public meeting. Friend replied, "I don't believe him:—he has only said that to get the old soldiers' votes." I said I was quite sure Mr Watt would not tell an untruth, and if he got in the House I was sure he would bring the claims forward. I said if Mr Watt got in the House, and Friend could prove he did not bring the claims forward, I would forfeit a £5 note. Nothing else was said. Mr Hatrick came, I think, when we were speaking about the vote. He was present when the £5 was mentioned, and at that time was taking part in the conversation. When I was going home, possibly on the day after the election, Friend called me and said he had voted for Mr Watt, although in the previous conversation he had given me to understand he would not do so. He said nothing else on that occasion. No conversation took place the day after the election with Friend in the course of which I denied having offered a guarantee of £5 as a bribe. I have to pass Friend's stable on the way to my house. I had a conversation with Friend in January in Cook's Gardens. I was crossing over the hill and met Mr Frank Parkes. I sat down with him in conversation. Shortly afterwards Friend came up the pathway towards where we were sitting. I said "I hear you're in one of the cases against me:—is it true you said I offered you £5 to vote for Mr Watt." He said "No." Mr Parkes was present and in hearing. I said "Have you given any information," or words to that effect. He said that it was through Detective Sullivan, who wanted him to go and lay an information. I said "Did I offer you any bribe or inducement to vote for Mr Watt," and be replied "You did not." I said to him "Where did this conversation take place," referring to the first time I had previously seen him. He said "In the stable yard, no one being present." I asked him if any one heard our conversation. He said there was someone in the stable, but too far away to hear. This is all that took place between Friend and myself.:—(Mr Fitzherbert asked if the case of the three shoemakers was to be proceeded with.:—Mr Stout said he should cross-examine Mr Anderson upon it for two reasons.:—Mr Justice Gillies said that as at present, advised, the Court regarded the case as a joke. The Chief Justice remarked that as Mr Stout did not propose to give up the case, no time would be saved by not examining the witness upon it). As to what took place with the shoemakers at Spriggens, I remember going to the workshop on the 8th of December, and entered into a discussion on political matters. Nothing whatever was said to any of the three shoemakers as to dancing boots. Master James Spriggens was present in addition to the three shoemakers and myself. He was walking in and out at the beginning, but subsequently took his seat and was there at the latter end of the conversation. As to the alleged threat made to Wm Henry Flyger, by way of undue influence, I went to Mr Geo. Flyger's shop on the day before the election, and asked Mr William Flyger for his brother. He said he was out. I then said, "Is it true your brother George says I told him Mr Watt's Committee would withdraw their custom it he voted for Mr Ballance ?" No one was present in the shop. I do not remember the answer. I think he said he would tell his brother Nothing else took place between us at that time A day or two after the election, I think about the 14th, I went again to Flyger's shop. William Flyger was on a ladder outside. I told him these reports were still flying about, and if his brother did not stop them, or I heard any more of them, I would punish him:—or words to that effect. He replied "So you did use a threat to him." I asked him how he knew. He replied "I heard you use the threat to my brother." Edward Howe was present. I called him (Mr W. H. Flyger) a liar. Nothing further took place. A day or two before the election I had a conversation with George Flyger outside Williamson's shop. We were talking about the candidates and politics in general, and the class of people supporting one candidate, and contrasting them with the class supporting the other. He said that he was going to vote for Mr Ballance and was working for him in the page 19 election. That was all that took place then of importance. I cannot recall to memory what else was talked about. About the 14th (the same day as, and a couple of minutes after, my last interview with his brother) Geo. Flyger was coming down the Avenue towards the shop. I went as far as my place of business and waited for him. I said to him, "What do you mean by spreading reports that I said that if you voted for Mr Ballance, Mr Watt's Committee would withdraw their custom." He replied, "So you did say it." I called him a liar, and I think I added that I would punish him for spreading reports. Messrs Pollock, Light-band, Poole, and Currie were present at this interview. I said to Geo. Flyger "Did I threaten you." He said "No, you left a message with my brother to the effect that Mr Watt's Committee would withdraw their custom if I voted for Ballance, but you never intimidated me at that time," or words to that effect. I saw my brother and Mr Light band go away with Geo. Flyger. I had a further conversation with the latter on the same day at the corner of Guyton and Wilson-street, when I apologised for calling him a liar. I never made use of the words to Mr Howe which were sworn to by Mr W. H. Flyger as having been said outside the shop. Howe was not then present. No such conversation as Mr Geo Flyger swore to (about "having him spotted") ever took place. I deal at Mr Flyger's shop, and have continued to do so since the election. As to the alleged threat used to Mrs Moult, I saw her at her shop on the day before the election. I asked her if Mr Moult was in, and she replied in the negative. I said I merely wished to see him about his vote. I re-marked "He is comparatively speaking a stranger in Wanganui, and likely does not know much about the candidates. I don't think he could do better than vote for Mr Watt." She replied "Mr Moult will vote for whom he likes. He did so in the old country, and will do so here." I replied "Pardon me, Mrs Moult, "I'm not dictating who Mr Moult shall vote for; I'm only suggesting it." That was all that took place, and was the only occasion I ever spoke to Mrs or Mr Moult about the election. At my conversation with Mrs Moult I remember seeing a girl with her sleeves tucked up, passing through the shop. I believe someone came into the shop during the latter part of the conversation, but I had my back turned. I never made any statement about 73 members of Watt's Committee going against Mr Moult in business. As to the alleged threat to Mr Blick, I remember meeting him the day before the election, and asking him if he would vote for Mr Watt. I think he replied that he would vote for Mr Ballance, but he said it didn't matter much to him, and he didn't know much about New Zealand politics. (Mr Justice Gillies said that surely Mr Stout did not mean to rely upon Blick's statement, which seemed to negative the petitioner's case.:—Mr Stout said it was important in several aspects for purposes of cross-examination. Either Mr Anderson has committed perjury, or 7 or 8 other people have done so.:—The examination was proceeded with.) I told Blick the difference between the class supporting Mr Watt, and that supporting Mr Ballance. I said also that the majority of shop-keepers were supporting Mr Watt, and I asked Blick to re-consider his idea.
Cross-examined by Mr Stout:—I was doing what I could in Cook's Ward for Watt, but had no list. I don't know whether anybody had one. (Chief Justice said that the Court thought that the evidence sufficiently established agency.) The railway workshops are not in Cook's Ward. They are outside the town. Some of the men who work there are residents in the electoral district. Bennie and I went to the workshops, but I do not know at whose suggestion. I am not the Government upholsterer, but I get the work from Mr Rotherham without any contract. I do not know of his giving any outside work to any other cabinet-maker. I have had the work for about 2½ years, since the present Ministry was in office. I went to the workshops and spoke to the men and asked them for their votes for Mr Watt. The majority said they were going to vote for Mr Ballance. I did not tell them that if they could not vote for Mr Watt they had better not vote at all. (Mr Justice Gillies said that a charge of this sort not being in the particulars could not be entered into.:—Mr Stout said he was testing the credibility of the witness. If he could prove that Mr Anderson was lying in the witness box, and that he had been going about on all sides using undue influence, it would test his credit.:—Mr Justice Gillies said that upsetting the witness' credit would not establish that of the witnesses for the petition.:—Mr Stout said that of course if his Honor did not believe 7 or 8 witnesses there was an end of the cases.:—His Honor intimated that several of them had probably not told the trnth.):—I will not swear that I did not suggest that some of the men should abstain from voting. I may have mentioned Mr Rotherham's name to several of the men. I did not say that it would confer a favor on Mr Rotheram if the men would abstain from voting. I don't remember the connection in which Mr Rotheram's name was used. I was asked how Mr Rotheram would vote. I said I did not know, and that he had stated that if any of the men wished to get away to vote they could do so provided they did not interfere with the works. I do not know how many voted. I can't say anything about it. I knew Askew was an old soldier before I called on him, but I had never heard that he had a claim for land until he told me. I did not mention Mr Bryce's name at any interview with Askew. I did mention it to Friend. I did page 20 ot say that Askew was to go and arrange with Billings as to work. The message Askew was to take was that Billings was to do up the garden, and could employ Askew if he liked. About two or three years ago I had more than one man employed in the garden, but I never had any man assisting Billings before. I did not say anything about £5 to Askew. I did not ask him to work for Mr Watt as well as to vote for him. Askew never mentioned Middleton's name to me before the election. I will swear he did not. I did not ask any person about Middleton before the election; that is not in connection with the election. I knew Middleton, but not that he was a voter. I imagined he was. I did not know where he lived. Before the election he never asked me for the loan of money. On the morning of the election when I was speaking to Mr Middleton, I remember seeing Mr Ballance pass. I will swear Stretch was present, but I cannot say how far he was off Middleton and myself. I will swear Stretch was in my company, but I do not know whether he was in the hotel doorway. I might have been possibly from 10 to 20 feet off.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.
On resuming, Mr Stout's cross-examination of the witness Anderson was continued as follows:—I may years ago have spoken to Middleton on other matters, but not lately. I have only spoken to him once since the election, and all I said was that I wanted to see him, without saying what it was about. I have, therefore, got no information from him as to the 8s 6d account. I know the date of it now, but not from Middleton. He never called on me as suggested. I did not know Friend was an old soldier. I did not that there were many old soldiers here who were electors. I never enquired how many or few there were. I paid no more attention to that part of Mr Watt's speech which related to the old soldiers than to any other. He didn't spend much time over that part. Friend was the only old soldier I mentioned £5 to. I will not swear positively that Askew did not mention Middleton's name to me. I have no recollection of Askew telling me that Middleton had to do with old soldiers. I will not say that Mrs Igoe's story is false, but the part of it about the few shillings is so. My statement to W. H. Flyger was simply a question. I contradict the part of Mrs Moult's evidence relating to Watt's committee. I never told her the number of committeemen. I believe it was about 40. As to Mr Blick, I admit telling him that the majority of the shopkeepers were supporting Mr Watt. I told him this because the shopkeepers are the more thinking part of the Wanganui community, and I wanted him to know. I did not tell him so to influence his vote, although I knew that he was supported by contributions from the shopkeepers, whose goods he protected. 3 or 4 days ago I went to the house in Wilson street to see Askew. I saw some of his relations. I went over some matters connected with the election. I do not know whether Askew is still poor and out of work. I do not think that there are many out of work in Wanganui. I did not employ any poor man but Askew. I did not employ Askew:—it was Billings did so. I know nothing about Billings employing Askew as a matter of charity. When I sent Askew to Billings I would have given him work but for the election being on. I would have given it him not as charity but because he asked for work. (Mr Justice Gillies inquired what Mr Stout meant by giving work as a matter of charity.:—Mr Stout said he could explain it very well. It was charity to employ a man to do garden work when the witness knew the man could not do it.) Askew never asked me for money before he applied for the 2s 6d. I at once gave it to him. I do not know the exact date of its repayment. I did not see Mr Bryce on election matters. I daresay I spoke to him casually about them, but I think it was when he came to my stores to buy goods. There was nothing mentioned between me and Mr Bryce as to the old soldier's land claims.
Wm. Stretch, bootmaker, in Mr Hurley's employ, said:—I know Mr Anderson. I recollect being in his company on the morning of the election. I met him on Taupo Quay close to St Hill-street. He was alone when I met him. We went together to the Pier Hotel, a distance of 60 or 70 yards. We met Mr Middleton just as we were in the act of going into the Hotel. He said to Mr Anderson, "I've voted for Watt, and I'm doing my utmost on his behalf." Anderson said, "That's all right." I was quite close to Anderson and could hear all that took place. Anderson and I went in and had a glass. Middleton stood by and gave his order to the barmaid. Anderson paid. Anderson and I left and parted at Duthie's corner. We left Middleton at the Hotel. Had there been any other conversation between Anderson and Middleton I must have heard it. Anderson did not ask Middleton into the Hotel. No such conversation as Middleton deposed to about sending Askew to the Custom House Hotel ever took place. Had it been so I must have heard it. I have known Middleton for 17 or 18 years, since the Taranaki war. (Mr Fitzherbert asked the witness what was Middleton's general character, but Mr Stout objected to the question and quoted authorities in support of the objection.:—After some discussion Mr Fitzherbert was allowed to ask the question as to Middleton's veracity, on the understanding that the witness was to merely state not his own impression, but what was generally understood of it). I knew Middleton as an hotel keeper, in far better circumstances than he is now, but I can say nothing against his character.
Cross-examined by Mr Stout:—I cannot say who went first into the Hotel, but I may have page 21 done so. I am positive I spoke only to the barmaid, and did not see Mr Jackson, who was not present. I may have passed the time of day to Mr Middleton. Anderson spoke in an ordinary tone of voice. I did not vote till the evening. I cannot positively say that I saw Mr Ballance before I went into the Hotel. I saw him taking with Mr Murray when we came out. Mr Anderson and Mr Middleton did not stand talking in the street, but just spoke, and passed into the Hotel. I cannot say which of us three spoke first, or what was said. I do not know what began the conversation or who began it.
Stephen Billing, gardener, said:—I know Mr John Anderson, and have often done gardening for him at his own place. In December last I did work for him about the election time. I was sitting on a rail by the Wanganui Bridge when a man named Askew came to me, and asked if I was doing anything in these times. I replied, not just now. He said he had got a job to do up a garden, with a lot of mowing which he could not do himself. He added, if I would do the mowing it would put him into a day's job to clean up afterwards. I agreed to do it. He said the work was at Mr Anderson's. I said I would go the next morning. The conversation took place just after election day. I went the next morning, and finished on the following morning, and he cleared up. I took my tools away, and went through Cook's Gardens. I met Mrs Anderson, who spoke to me. I took the tools back to the garden, and the next day I did the flower beds. I did nothing more after that, but Askew went and did the coach-house walks. I was there two days, and an hour altogether. Anderson paid me for the job. I went down for it, and received a cheque for 27s 6d, upon the back of which I put a mark. I received no other cheque or money from Mr Anderson about that time. The cheque was for 2s 6d too little, being the amount borrowed by Askew, who told me that he had borrowed it from Anderson. Askew and I were each to receive 15s. Nothing was said about that 2s 6d at the time the cheque was paid me by Mr Anderson. I paid Askew 15s out of the cheque. He said he had better see Mr Anderson about the 2s 6d he had borrowed, as I had done the most of the work.
J. R. B. Brockman, manager to Mr Anderson, said:—I remember seeing Askew three times subsequent to the election. I can't name the precise dates. Askew came to the shop and said he wished to see Anderson privately. I was in the shop but took no part in the conversation. The second time he called, Anderson beckoned Askew to follow him, and they spoke together at the back door. On the first occasion I overheard Detective Sullivan mentioned, but I heard nothing on the second. The third occasion was on the 28th Dec between 5 and 6 in the afternoon. Askew came in and handed the enclosed envelope (produced). I did not know the contents. I delivered it into Anderson's hands. Askew waited about till Anderson was disengaged. When he was disengaged Anderson and Askew retired to the back door of the shop. I was in the timber shed adjoining the shop, but not in sight. I heard the conversation between Askew and Anderson. Askew began by saying he had come to communicate something of importance to Anderson, and that he had been sent by Middleton who had got into some kind of trouble and wanted to borrow £2. Anderson in reply said "What have I to do with lending or giving money to Middleton?" Askew said "Well I'm in a hurry to go away. If you don't let him have this money you'll be sorry for it":—or words to that effect. Anderson said "I don't know what you mean," and interrogated him. The first question asked was "Did I ever directly or indirectly through you offer any sort of employment to Mr Middleton." Askew answered "No, your never did." The next question was "Did I ever mention Middleton's name to you in any way connected with the election?" The answer was "No, you never did. I told you so on a former occasion when you asked the same question." The third question was "Did I ever offer you any sort of bribe or inducement for you to vote on behalf of Mr Watt?" The answer was "I can swear it on the Bible I never did." The next thing was Anderson said "Why, what do you mean in coming here and asking me for money for Mr Middleton." He answered "Detective Sullivan's been down to our place and they are trying to get up a case against you to upset the election. You had better go and see Mr Watt and see what he will give to get the case stopped," or something of that kind. He went on to say that Mr Ballance had offered him and Middleton between £200 and £300 if they could work up a case to upset the election." Askew said "You know I'm an old soldier," to which Mr Anderson replied "I don't understand what you mean." Askew said "You don't know what old soldiers are, or you wouldn't ask such a question." Upon this he reiterated his wish to take money to Middleton. Anderson said "I'll give you no money, nor go to Mr Watt, and you'd better go away, or something of that sort. That's all I heard on that occasion. I made a note of this conversation with pencil and paper, and I have given the substance of it. I transcribed my pencil notes into ink some time ago. I didn't consider the pencil notes material, and I haven't got them now.
Cross-examined by Mr Stout:—I have been about 12 months in Mr Anderson's employment. I believe I am a voter, and am certain I voted. I have my own opinions and am guided by my own conscience. I was on page 22 Mr Watt's side, but didn't know that my conscience and Mr Anderson's agreed. (Laughter.) I was one of the "thinking men alluded to by Mr Anderson. (Laughter.
Frank Parkes said: I am a settler residing near Wanganui. I recollect being with Mr Anderson in Cook's Gardens on the 18th January last. I saw Mr Geo. Friend there. Conversation took place between him and Anderson in my presence. Anderson asked Friend what he had been saying about him. Friend said "I don't know." Anderson then said "Did you not say that I offered you £5 to vote for Mr Watt?" Friend said "No." Anderson then said "Did I at any time offer you anything in the shape of a bribe to advise you to vote for Mr Watt?" Friend distinctly denied it. Anderson said "Was there anyone present in the yard and overheard the conversation?" Friend replied "No; there was a man in the stable, but he was too far off to have heard the conversation." This was all that took place, and the conversation turned upon horses and horse-racing. All that took place was said in my presence, and we three were sitting on the same bench.
Cross-examined by Mr Stout:—Some reference was made to a previous meeting in a stable. I cannot say that I heard all that both parties said on that subject. I do not remember Anderson saying, "You've laid a complaint against me." nor anything about Detective Sullivan. I will not swear nothing of the sort was said. I had a cold in my head. I did not hear anything about Mr Bryce, but I will not swear nothing was said.
Alex, Hatrick said:—I am a forage merchant and corn-factor. I know George Friend. I recollect going to his stables on the day before the election. I saw Mr Anderson and Mr Friend talking together. I went up to them. Anderson called my attention to the conversation by saying, "Here's a man undecided who to vote for." I said "Friend should vote for the man who would represent many best." Friend said he wouldn't vote for Mr Watt, but for the man who would help the discharged soldiers. Anderson said that Watt had said at his meeting that he intended to do so, and he believed he would keep his word. Friend replied that he didn't believe he would. Anderson said that he was sure he would, and further that if Friend could prove that Watt didn't keep his word in this respect he (Anderson) would forfeit a £5 note out of his own pocket. I think Anderson further said that Watt would have a better chance of furthering the interests of the discharged soldiers, seeing that he was on the side of the present Government. Anderson and I then left the yard together.
Wm. Middleton said:—I am a bootmaker in the employment of Spriggens. Henry and Doddy were so also. I recollect Mr Anderson coming in the day before the election and having a discussion about politics. He did not ask us to vote for Mr Watt, but simply if we had a vote. (Mr Justice Gillies read his note of Doddy's evidence as to the conversation about not voting for Ballance, and about the dancing boots.) Anderson never mentioned boots in the workshop. He never saw us three together on any other occasion. Mr Spriggens' son was going in and out of the workshop with boots.
Cross-examined by Mr Stout:—I don't know exactly whether I was one of Mr Watt's supporters. I voted for myself and thought for myself. I am indebted to Mr Anderson. I think I owe him a little.
By the Chief Justice:—I owe Mr Anderson money for furniture. The debt is one of about 12 months standing. I am paying off the debt by degrees.
Edward Howe said:—I know W. H. Flyger and Mr Geo Flyger, and Mr John Anderson. I was not present at a conversation between Anderson and Wm Flyger about the time of the election:—that is, not that I am aware of. I do not remember being present at an interview between them about that time. (Evidence of Wm H. Flyger read over by Mr Justice Gillies as to Anderson's remarks about "spotting" by the Watt Committee and so forth.) If the conversation had taken place I think I must have heard it. I cannot be certain that I was not with Mr Anderson when he met Wm Flyger about election time.
By Mr Stout:—I never heard the word "spotted" used. I have not had any conversation within the last week with Wm Flyger about the election. I told him that I was subpœnaed, but I did not say that I heard the word "spotted." I only said that Flyger had no business to bring me into the matter. I did not take much interest in the election, nor take any active part in it. I do not even know whether Anderson was canvassing the town. People might be talking about election matters without my paying any attention to them.
W. P. Currie said: I know Mr John Anderson and Mr Geo Flyger, and remember a meeting between them in the Avenue. I believe it was the morning after the official declaration of the poll. When I came up to them they were mutually calling one another liars. Anderson put the question "Did lever say to you that Mr W. H. Watt's Committee men, about 60 or 70, would take care you did no business in your place so far as they were concerned, if you voted for Ballance." Geo Flyger said, "It was not to me but to my brother Bill, and Howe can prove it."
Elizabeth Teideman said: I was formerly in Mrs Moult's service at the time of the general election. Whilst I was in Mrs Moult's employ I did not see Mr Anderson, so far as I am aware. I remember Mrs Moult saying to me in the shop that Anderson had asked who Mr Moult was going to page 23 vote for, and said that if he didn't vote for Watt 74 men would go against him. A day or two after this Mrs Moult was talking about the election, and said Mr Ballance was going to take it up, and would I stick to it and say that I heard Anderson use the words in question. I said that I would not. I was in her employment at that time. Mrs Moult added. "I don't suppose you will be called up to Court; but if you are, you will get 10s and I shall get my pound."
By Mr Stout:—I know Mr Cooper, the boarding-house keeper. I never told him I overheard Anderson speaking to Mrs Moult, or words to that effect. I never told Mr Cooper anything about Mrs Moult or the election. I left at the New Year, being taken ill. The conversation with Mrs Moult was about a week after the election. She did not ask me whether I had heard the conversation with Anderson. I first mentioned my talk with Mrs Moult to a Mrs Murray. I cannot say whether it was after the petition, for I know nothing about it. I have come up from Wellington.
This closed the evidence for the respondent.
Mr Stout applied for liberty to call rebut ting evidence to contradict the witnesses Stretch and Tiedeman on certain points, so as to discredit their testimony.
Their Honors, however, considered that the particular rebutting evidence mentioned by Mr Stout could not be called, and Mr Stout did not further press the matter, remarking that it was not necessary for his case.
In reply to Mr Fitzherbert, the Court intimated that they considered the evidence of agency, if not strong, was sufficient.
Mr Fitzherbert then commenced to sum up his case as to intimidation and undue influence. He submitted that if the petitioner's witnesses were to be implicitly relied upon, the evidence amounted to no more than friendly warnings. After all they only amounted but to a brutum fulmen, for it was not to be believed that seventy-three men could for example be prevented from being customers at a particular shop. Mr Fitzherbert then went through the evidence as to the cases of the Flygers, Mrs Moult, and Blick, and contended that undue influence was not established. He then dwelt upon the cases of alleged bribery, and asked first of all that both Askew and Middleton should not be believed, their evidence, which he dissected, not being worthy of credit. So far particularly as Askew was concerned his evidence could not be taken, especially wherever it was met by denial from other witnesses, for his conduct subsequent to the election showed that he and Middleton were both levying black mail. Mrs Igoe's story was absolutely uncorroborated it, but the question of the £5 did not amount to a promise to forfeit that amount to Mr Friend, but merely that Mr Anderson was prepared to support Mr Watt's veracity to that extent. The story of the shoemakers was of a light and trivial character, even if it ever took place, and was contradicted by two witnesses. He therefore considered that neither bribery nor undue influence was established, and that the petitioner's case had totally broken down. In a case of this kind the petitioner's should be prepared with clear and overwhelming evidence, but here the witnesses might be describe as eleven men in buckram grown out of two. He therefore asked the Court to dismiss the petition and declare Mr Watt duly elected.
Mr Stout then summed up the whole case on behalf of the petitioners. He said that if ever there was a case where corrupt practices were clearly proved is was the present one. He would in the first place remark upon the class of witnesses likely to be affected by such practices, that they were not thinking men or well to do farmers or storekeepers who were bribed or attempted to be bribed. The class liable to be bribed were a different class altogether, and therefore if it was said that no case could be proved without the production of witnesses of high character, no election whatever could be declered void on the ground of bribery. All the many English cases showed that those who go about offering bribes knew well the class to whom it was best to address themselves. It was always people of no good standing to whom it was alone safe to offer bribes. He proposed to take the cases of bribery first, and desired to point out to the Court two or three instances to show how carefully the law had been defined by the home judges. It was, for example, not necessary that there should be any charge of systematic corruption:—the smallest bribe was sufficient. In the Blackburn case Justice Willes said that the amount of injury done by the agent was immaterial. If a voter were bribed by the agent even to the extent of 2s 6d, the election was void, although the voter may have gone for the other side. Decisions in the Shrewsbury and Hastings cases were to the same effect, that however small and paltry, the bribery might be, the Court, in carrying out the Act (so it was laid down by Baron Channel) was not entitled to weigh the effect or the amount. The same law had been laid down in cases of undue influence and intimidation. This Court has to look at the matter from the same point of view as the Home Judges, and all the Court had to be satisfied with was the production of reasonable evidence. How that principle was to be applied had had been laid down by Justice Grove in the Wakefield case. It might be perfectly true that witnesses called to prove that they had been bribed might be open to suspicion, but their evidence had a circumstantial value, no infallible rule being laid down whether witnesses were to be believed or not. The Court had, for instance, to look page 24 at the sources from which the testimony came, for a variety of sources tended to show that all the witnesses had not been induced to tell falsehoods. That principle should be applied to the present case. Was the Court to believe that all the petitioners' witnesses had sworn falsely? Had they all any com-mon cause to make or anything to gain? Was the oath of one persons and he liable (to say the least) to disability, to weigh against the sworn testimony of all the witnesses? If so, then there was no chance of any charge of bribery or undue influence being proved, for a person capable of committing corruption or intimidation was capable of coming into Court and swearing that the charges were untrue. In the present case the Court might perhaps doubt the petitioners case, if it rested merely on Middleton or Askew, but their Honors were asked to go further and say that what the others had sworn to was untrue. He would ask the Judges, sitting there as jurymen, whether the oath of a briber was to be taken against all this testimony. Even taking Askew's evidence, wherever there was a possibility of a confirmation it had been given. Was not his evidence confirmed in a wonderful manner by Billings, who actually confirmed Askew's statement as to the very way in which the latter picked up the former, and the conversation between them. A better corroboration of Askew's evidence was the cheque for 27s 6d. If Anderson's statement was true that he had nothing to do with paying Askew, but with Billings who was to employ what workman he pleased, why did Anderson keep back the 2s 6d he had lent to Askew? There was no need to draw any other inference than that And on had given him 2s 6s at election time, and deducted it from the cheque afterwards. Billings had been imported into the case simply that Anderson, who with a view to influence his vote had promised Askew work which he was unable to perform, might give it him in a roundabout way. If Anderson's account of his interview with Friend was correct, that alone was sufficient to unseat Mr Watt. The inference the Court had to d: aw was that a person offering a direct bribe was not to get out of his corrupt practice by using certain words so as to sail close to the wind. Why was the £5 promised to Friend at all, except to influence his conduct in voting? It was of course promised to induce a vote in a particular direction, and it meant that if Watt was unsuccessful in getting Friend his grant of land, the latter would at any rate be sure of £5. When the Court found a man spying saying something about £5 in connection with the old soldier's land in one case, it was not too much to draw the inference that Askew was correct in saying that the same thing had taken place with him. There was no doubt, of course, that as to these monetary transactions of Anderson's, there were some which the Court could not get to the bottom of. Why for example should Anderson lend Askew the 2s 6d at all. Then, if Anderson admitted that he had had some conversation with Friend about £5, why in the questions put to the latter in the presence of Parkes was not a word mentioned about it? The same remark applied to the questions put to Askew, with Brock man as eavesdropper. In each case why the reticence about the £5 ? The sole cause was evidently that as Anderson was conscious he had made some pledge of giving £5 in a certain event, he did not wish that pledge mentioned in the presence of third persons. If the Court believed Friend, the offer of the £5 was a pure and unadulterated bribe, and there was an end to the case, for the Court had only to consider whether the offer of £5 to induce a vote amounted to a bribe. The promise of £5 (conditional on Mr Bryce not doing something) was in Askew's case of the same nature and for the same end. Why also should Anderson have gone to Friend and said that when he offered the £5 he did not wish to bribe him? The Court could not believe that Friend was the witness of untruth in this statement, and if so, why should Anderson have used the expression about the £5, if he had not been conscious of having done something wrong. Doddy's evidence had some important bearing on this matter. When he said that Anderson came to him and asked him not to go against him because he (Anderson) might be punished, it again shewed that he was conscious of having done something wrong. Was Mrs lgoe's testimony perjury? That she did not tell her husband till the evening shewed that her testimony was not coloured, for she might just as well have placed the conversation about a few shillings in the evening as the morning. Her evidence bore the stamp of truth, and, if believed, was sufficient to void the election, without other cases. Could the Court believe that Mrs Igoe, who had no communication with Askew and the other witnesses, and had no connection with election disputes, had perjured herself. With regard to the evidence of Middleton and Askew, they corroborated one another as to the offer of employment. If Middleton and Anderson were not on speaking terms, how did it happen that the former came up and addressed the latter upon election matters; and strange to say, the witness Stretch did not remember the beginning or end of the conversation. Then again, why did Middleton apply to Anderson for a loan of £2? Why did he select him instead of Mr Sharp, Mr Bennie, or Mr Alexander, all of them amongst the respectable people of Wanganui? There was evidently something between Anderson and Middleton which gave the latter a show to ask for a loan. Why, also, did Anderson tell Middleton to call on him without telling him what it was for? Would the Court for a single moment believe that it was to obtain the date of a paltry payment of 8s 6d:—which he admitted he had never obtained from Middleton yet? page 25 In all these matters there was ample evidence of bribery, and that the election had not been conducted in a fair manner. He now came to intimidation, or undue influence. The Court had already intimated that there was some evidence of this, and unless Anderson's testimony explained it away, the Court could not ignore it. It was wonderful, for example, how Miss Teideman corroborated Mrs Moult, by testifying that directly after the conversation with Anderson she told Miss Teideman exactly what was said. In other words, Mrs Moult tells the servant all about it before the election was over, or there was a hint of a petition. Did Mrs Moult in five minutes coin evidence to get up an election petition, and then ask her servant to go into Court and swear it. It was impossible to believe such a thing. As to the fact of Anderson still remaining a customer of Mr Flyger's or Mrs Moult's, it was in itself strong corroborative evidence. If he really believed Flyger was suborning witnesses to prove him guilty of a c 'me, or that Mrs Moult was about to swear lies, would any honest man continue to deal at their stores. This was strong evidence that Anderson knew the witnesses were not perjuring themselves. Was the Court to assume that both the Flyger's had sworn what was false, and also that Geo. Flyger made an retrue statement to Anderson, his customer, before a petition was even talked about, the official declaration of the poll made, a scrutiny decided upon, or any communication proved between Mr Ballance's people and Mr Flyger. Anderson appears also to have thought it well to apologise to a man who had openly accused him of a crime. To apologise under such circumstances was presumably one of the "thinking" acts of the people of Wanganui. He submitted with confidence that if this election were not declared void on the ground of undue influence they would have in the Colony the most complete system of Boycotting, and the Courts would be utterly unable to prevent it. It had been laid down that if one man had been prevented from giving his vote freely, the election should be declared void; and that was even in a case where intimidation had no possible influence on the election, the majority being so large that even if the intimidated electors had voted the other way it would have made no difference in the result. He would ask the Court to compare the evidence in this case with the Stanmore petition, where all that was done was to promise a payment to an elector for performing clerical work:—a trivial thing no doubt, but forbidden by the Act. Such a case of undue influence as that of Mrs Moult was sufficient to void any election. He submitted that a threat was undue influence, and that if it were held that threatening a loss of custom was not intimidating a storekeeper, then it would be impossible under the Act to prove any case of intimidation whatever, except perhaps actually locking up a voter or something of that sort. Mr Moult had but recently come out to the colony, and if a threat of loss of custom were held at Home to be intimidation, but not so here, then a man like Mr Moult would be at a loss to understand what intimidation was at all. He did not rely implicitly on Blick's or Doddy's cases to prove undue influence or bribery, but to show what length a canvasser was prepared to go to when he threatened a night watchman. Of course as to the boots incident, he would not say it bore the nature of a bribe, because Anderson was not likely to offer one in the presence of three witnesses. When Anderson attempted to bribe any of the witnesses, he took care that there was practically no other person present. At the same time Doddy's and Henry's evidence shewed the lengths Anderson was prepared to go in order to return his candidate. It was well known that it was very difficult to prove cases of undue influence or bribery, but in the present petition it could be shewn that at least Mrs Moult's and Mrs Ioe's cases, which were quite sufficient to void the election, had been clearly proved, and that all the other cases tended to show the system which had prevailed, and that this had not been a free election. As to what had been said of Detective Sullivan, be knew nothing of him, or why the Government had removed him from Wanganui. The fact was that the Petitiouers were not fighting merely people like Anderson or Watt, but Ministers themselves, one of whom had done that which in England would have rendered any election void, for an interference by a Minister or a Peer in an election contest was clearly illegal and improper. Why had Sullivan not been called by the respondent instead of being spirited away to Auckland by the Government? That very fact told strongly against the respondent's case. Why actually Mr Bryce goes into Andersoa'S shop just before the election, having suddenly discovered that he needed some furniture. Anderson also turns out to be the holder of the Government contracts on the Railway for years past and without competition. Who could say that the petitioners had not to contend against the Government and Government influence. Whatever Sullivan had done could not affect the sworn testimony of witnesses. He was not employed by the the petitioners, who were willing to go into the box and say so. Who could say that the Detective had not been instructed on behalf of the Government to find out whether corrupt practices had been committed, his duty being to detect crime of any sort. There was no evidence that Sullivan influenced any of the witnesses in the slightest degree, and none that he was employed by anybody but the Government, or that the evidence had been got up improperly, or in such a way as to produce perjured testimony. Even had Sullivan got up some of the evidence, it did not apply to page 26 the bulk of the witnesses, who had nothing to do with him, for only Friend and Askew spoke of Sullivan. At any rate there was no proof that any witnesses had been entrapped, and many of them referred to events which actually took place long before any petition could have been thought of. The petitioners knew nothing of Sullivan having been imported into the case, the respondent having delivered no recrimination on the subject. Upon the whole case he contended that unless it was held to have been proved, no election in New Zealand could ever be rendered void and a system of terrorism might be established by which free voting would be an impossibility.
Their Honors retired for half-an-hour to consider their judgment. On returning separate decisions of the judges were given as follows:—
The Chief Justice said that he and his brother Justice had agreed upon the decision to be given in the case, but as they were in the anomalous position of being both Judge and Jury, they thought it better that each should express his views. Very early in the case he formed the impression with regard to some of the grounds even as stated in the particulars that it would probably turn out that that which at first sight looked to be intimidation could not be supported as such, and at the conclusion of the case he found that impression not removed, but deepened. Pretty early in the case the Court had stated that acts of alleged intimidation were open to this general observation. That must happen when parties were anxious on both sides, that in the course of canvassing, someone would point out that the principal persons in the town are taking one side, and persons of no influence were taking the other side. It would also be pointed out that the latter might be made to suffer from the action of the former, but to point this out to a voter did not amount to intimidation, as it was merely telling him what in the ordinary course of nature might be expected to take place. It might for example be said to the voter canvassed, that he was likely to suffer by the removal of custom, but if that were all, it was not intimidation. He had never taken any part in any election, and had never canvassed, and did not therefore know from his own experience what was done on such occasions, but in this case he had not found that any acts had been done which could be stigmatised as intimidation. It must constantly occur that a canvasser would point out urgently what was the state of parties. If that was all, then manifestly the cases of Flyger, Moult, and Blick could not be supported, and he had come to the conclusion that the evidence disclosed nothing more than he had stated. Flyger's was no doubt the strong case. Blick's was very weak indeed, even taking the evidence as it was put for the petitioners. In order to support a charge of intimidation on the ground of athreat to withdraw salary, something much more definite must be established, and something more like an assertion that the canvasser was conveying a threat from persons who had the power to withhold the salary. Moult's case was much of the same sort. It was necessary for him to say whether Anderson made the alleged statement to Mrs Moult: but assuming that Anderson called on Mrs Moult in such a remarkable way, and at once opened mouth upon her with a threat, even supposing that the very words were used, they did not amount to undue influence. They may have been said, and probably were, with a view to influence a vote, but as they did not convey something which Anderson himself could carry out, and were not put as coming from the committee themselves, who could injure Moult in his business, they did not amount to a threat. In Flyger's case there was an important conflict of evidence. It was said that Anderson had stated certain things to Wm. Henry Flyger in the presence of Mr Ed. Howe, who appears to be a country gentleman, living at Turakina. But Howe says he was present, and did not hear what it is alleged that Anderson said to Flyger at the shop door. Howe doesn't remember it, and does not believe it happened. Anderson denies it, and therefore there are two witnesses against the occurrence. George Flyger says practically that something of the same sort took place outside the Post Office. Anderson, however, denies it. The general observation should be made, as Mr Stout had pointed out, that the fact of no alteration in business relations having taken place between Flyger or Moult and Watt's supporters, might be an admission that the former were telling the truth, and were not open to the imputation of giving a trumped up story. This no doubt was a just remark for Mr Stout to make, but it was open to the inference that no threat had really ever been made. It was not pretended that the alleged undue influence was ever carried out, and that goes far to show that the attempt was never made. Not a single fact had been adduced, nor a suggestion made, that the alleged threat had been carried out. With regard also to the bribery cases, the fact that the money had never been parted with, threw a strong case on those seeking to establish them. Of these cases he would leave Middleton's and Askew's to the last, and would take Mrs Igoe's. Her conduct in the box was unsatisfactory, and her manner gave impression that she had come to the Court to tell a certain story, and was determined not to say one word beyond it. It was his duty as a Judge not only to give his conclusions, but his reasons for them, and therefore he had arrived at the fact that this woman was not the witness of truth. Her story itself, irrespective of the manner in which it was delivered, and her refusal to say another word beyond it, was highly improbable. It appeared from her story that her husband was page 27 cutting hay at a distance from home. This was clear from the fact of Anderson saying that he would take a trap and go and see him. But would Anderson, who seemed to be a man of intelligence, have told her to say something to her husband on the day of election, which could not reach him till late in the day and after the poll had closed. Was it probable also that Mr Anderson, a man carrying on a resonably extensive business and of sufficient intelligence, would have made such a statement to the woman involving open bribery, without an attempt at secrecy. The Court was just in the same position as if it had before it a person on his trial for the offence of undue influence or bribery. No doubt ordinary bribes and acts of intimidation were done secretly, and offered to persons not of very good character or position in life. Therefore the Court could not expect to have before it for purposes of proof persons in a high position of life. But cases must not be supported by witnesses not credible and upon whose evidence it would not be safe to act. If Anderson were being tried for misdemeanour, the Court would not act upon testimony of a tainted kind. Coming to Doddy's case, he thought it was not even weak, for to any person but Doddy himself, the affair was manifestly a joke. This was even supposing it took place, for Middleton (who seemed a person likely to have been confused and forgotten the conversation) and Anderson (who may have said the words and now forgotten them) denied the occurrence. If upon evidence such as this the Court was asked to say that Anderson had offered the bribe of a pair of boots to each of these persons, the testimony was so weak as to threw discredit upon the rest of the cases. If the Court, as a Jury, saw that the petitioners were trying to distort a laughable transaction into a misdemeanour, it would look with suspicious eyes upon the other charges. It threw some light upon the way in which the petitioners had rashly concluded that threats were used in what took place with Flyger, Moult, and others. Friend's case seemed very clear. When His Honour first heard the evidence he concluded Friend was in error in supposing there was an attempt to offer a bribe. Hatrick's evidence was clear upon the point, and Anderson's also, and both gave a natural account of the conversation. Friend's account was unnatural and inconceivable. It seemed clear from the straightforward story of both Anderson and Hatrick that the former had in the course of discussion with Friend said that if Mr Watt did not bring the old soldiers claims before Parliament he (Anderson) would forfeit £5. If this was said, it was nothing more than Anderson enforcing his trust in what Watt would do. Friend's admission at the interview in the presence of Parkes that no bribe was offered supported this view of the matter, especially as the interview took place at a time when the alleged incident had been manifestly spread abroad as an act of bribery. The important matter was Hatrick's confirmation of Anderson's version of the conversation, that there was nothing like an offer of £5 for Friend's vote, and that what took place was merely the mode which some people were given to of enforcing their opinions. Although he had left Middleton's and Askew's cases to the last it was not because they were the strongest on behalf of the petitioners, but because they occupied a longer time and were somewhat peculiar. In Askew's case the petition relied upon a promise of employment, and the payment of half a crown. But Askew himself did not say that he was bribed or attempted to be bribed, but said that the 2s 6d was a loan which he repaid. In fact on Askew's own showing, the charge of bribery fails. It was manifest that Anderson did employ Askew, but the question was whether he had any corrupt motive in doing so. His Honour was not satisfied that there was and thought that Anderson's account was reasonable, especially as Askew himself said that when he was employed there was no stipulation as to his vote. That vote was decided upon with regard to the discharged soldiers land orders. For some reason or the other probably because he thought it was not safe, Anderson no doubt took a roundabout way of employing the man. But His Honor would ask was it to be case that the no man during the progress of an election (which sometimes took a long time) was to receive employment because he happened to be a voter? In such a case it was clear that a corrupt motive must be brought home, and in the present instance there was no evidence of anything of the sort: As to the offer of the £5 to Askew in connection with the land claims, possibly something of the sort might have taken place, but the matter was too unintelligable for the Court to think that there was any offer for a vote. In fact the story as detailed by Askew was intelligable only on the assumption that it was of the same nature as the conversation with Friend. As to Middleton's case, His Honor could not say that he would not accept his testimony but all he would say about it was that taking Middleton's and Askew's evidence together it was not necessary to go further into the matter. His Honor there said that he had one or two general observations to make on the petitioners' case. It was manifest that all their changes had been got up by Detective Sullivan. His Honor would not say that the Detective had wilfully and intentionally got them up knowing them all to be false, but he had gone about in an improper way to procure evidence. There was the case for example of the false cheque, whether or not drawn by Mr Willis, and His Honor's conclusion was that such a pretended cheque did exist. Mr Willis himself did not deny it. (Mr Stout reminded His Honor that Askew, upon whose testimony the existence of the cheque alone depended, had sworn page 28 that when he went to Willis that gentleman denied all knowledge of it.) It was clear that Sullivan, even supposing it was right at all to employ a detective for such a purpose, had gone about his work in an improper way. Had it been the intention of the petitioners to prosecute Anderson, it might here been right to employ Sullivan in his public capacity, but His Honor was clearly of opinion that the detective was not thus employed, but had acted in a highly improper way. The Court therefore declared that the election was not void and that Mr Watt was entitled to retain his seat.
Mr Justice Gillies said that he entirely agreed with what had fallen from His Honor the Chief Justice, and would have thought it unnecessary to make any remark were it not for the strong appeal made by the petitioners' Counsel in endeavouring to persuade the Court that this was a gross case, and that if it were not upheld no, election could be upset for bribery or intimidation. His Honor's opinion was that the present case was inexpressibly weak, and that it was quite unnecessary to have adduced a single witness in reply, had it not afforded a fair opportunity for Mr Anderson to deny on oath the charges brought against him. Otherwise his Honor would have been quite content that the evidence had not supported the petition. As to whether undue influence, by a threat to remove custom, amounted to intimidation. His Honor referred to a judgment of Mr Justice Blackburn, who, remarked his Honor, in election cases took a far more severe view than other Judges. That learned Judge, speaking of such precarious loss of custom, held that if the loss proposed to be inflicted world seriously affect the saleable value of a man's business it was clearly intimidation, but the matter was purely one of degree. The infliction of loss, or threat to inflict loss, must be so serious that one could direct a Jury in a criminal case to convict of misdemeanor. Very few Judges indeed, said his Honor, would say that if Anderson were tried upon upon the threats in the present case, he would be found guilty of misdemeanor. In Blick's case there was no threat whatever, or a shadow of a threat. Anderson merely pointed out to him on which side it was his interest to vote, and they knew very well that a man's interest was the side he generally voted on. In Flyger's case there was no threat by Anderson to take away his custom or induce Watt's Committee to do so, but merely a vague statement that the Committee had "spotted" Flyger, and that he would lose by it. This was simply a statement of possible consequences, which did not amount to a threat or intimidation. Coming to the charges of bribery, he found that the law had been variously laid down by the Judges. Mr Justice O'Brien in the Londonderry case said that a charge of bribery, whether by the candidate or his agent, must be established by clear evidence, and the Judge must be certain that the election was altogether void. Mere suspicion would not be sufficient to establish the charge, but it must be such as would warrant a jury finding the charge proved. Another Judge said that the evidence must establish the charge affirmatively to any reasonable man. Now let them look at the present case. In the bootmaker's affair, he entirely agreed with the Chief Justice that assuming it to be all true it was a joke or chaff, and not with the deliberate intention of offering a pair of boots as a bribe. His Honor would have thought that something else than a pair of boots would have been offered to a shoemaker, if bribery was intended. Then there was the case of Friend. Anderson and Friend appeared to have been discussing the merits of the two candidates:—Cdlin and Short in fact:—as to which was the best man to get the land grants for the old soldiers. Anderson appears to have said that if Mr Bryce did not take their claims before the House next session he (Anderson) would guarantee Friend £5 out of his own pocket. Surely there was no premise to pay £5 absolutely, but it was merely said as a guarantee of Watt's sincerity and truthfulness. It was very different to saying "I'll give £5 if you'll put Watt in" It was in fact not bribery, but an endeavour to induce an elector to give his vote, not by a bribe of £5, but by a promise to bring his land claims before the House. As to the case of Mrs Igoe, without going quite so far as the Chief Justice in discrediting her testimony, His Honor said that it was utterly uncorroborated, and the question at once arose:—would Anderson if tried upon an indictment be convicted by such evidence? His Honor said that Anderson would not, and taking that fact into consideration, together with her demeanour, her story was one of the last improbability. As to Askew and Middleton, he looked on them as witnesses utterly unworthy of credit. They were of the untrustworthy class of old soldiers and publichouse loafers, men of whom His Honor had known much in elections:—men who were prepared to take either side and then betray it. His Honor utterly disbelieved Middleton and Askew, and for the reasons he had given he held that the election was good, and the respondent duly returned according to the words of the Act.
Mr Fitzherbert applied for costs on behalf of the respondent, and after some discussion between Mr Stout and the Judges, the application was granted.