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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

An Evasive Report

An Evasive Report.

But the Commission was appointed not merely to make up its own mind, but also to convince the public, and a bald verdict of "Not Guilty," pronounced on the events of twenty years ago, is obviously susceptible of all sorts of doubts and qualifications unfavourable to the accused. Yet, incredible as page 7 it may appear, the Commissioners have not given a single reason for their finding on what was really the fundamental issue of the case, and the only one with which they had any special competence to deal. For three weeks the Commission sat; the printed report of the proceedings extends to some 350 foolscap folio pages; and if the public which the Commission was appointed to enlighten desires to know the grounds of the decision, it must wrestle with this huge volume and guess at the process as best it may. On two points, and two points only, is the evidence touched at all; and these are points which have no direct relation to the alleged crime, and are introduced for the sole purpose of discrediting the accused, This deplorable failure on the part of the Commissioners, this refusal to reason where reasoning, in the jargon to which they are accustomed, was "of the essence of the contract," this omission of any analysis of the evidence upon the bearing of which public sympathy will inevitably turn, makes it necessary that somebody who is prepared to treat the matter more precisely than the Commissioners should attempt to supply what they have omitted.* To spell a connected and rational story out of this colossal compilation, which the Commissiners have contemptuously flung in the face of Parliament and the public, will therefore be the aim of these pages.

In particular we shall endeavour to show:—
(1)That the finding of "Not Guilty" is all that was needed to support the full extent of Mr. Meikle's claim for redress.
(2)That any reasonable analysis of the evidence would suffice to carry conviction to the lay mind that the man is entitled not merely to an acquittal, but to an unconditional and ungrudging: declaration of his innocence.
(3)That the legal pedantries which have prevented the Commissioners from arriving at any conclusion on the subject of compensation are not of a kind which should cause a moment's hesitation to a mind capable of weighing the issues from the standpoint of common-sense, human sympathy, and public honour.