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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

"Bounty" or Justice?

"Bounty" or Justice?

Believing that for the public conscience the question too elementary to admit of argument, knowing that from first to last the right to compensation has never been challenging if once the conviction were proved to be unjust, we decline waste valuable time upon the moral agnosticism of the Commissioners now that, pursuant to their own recommendation on the only issue with which they are specially competent deal, the conviction is to be quashed. But we are glad to find room for a crushing retort to the most cherished argument of the Commissioners from one of Meikle's most powerful champions in the press:—

"Nobody but a lawyer will see any sense in the theory that recompense should be granted where the Judge has misinterpreted the law, and refused where he and the jury between them have misinterpreted the evidence by giving credence to a perjurer. In neither case has the injured man any legal redress, but the moral obligation of the State seems equally clear in both cases. In both cases the State, through its instruments, has unwittingly inflicted a wrong, and legal hair-splitting will satisfy the public conscience that can shirk responsibility in one case any more than in the other. And in both, with all deference to the Commissioners, the appeal is not to 'bounty,' but to justice."-Evening Post," 11th April, 1907.

page 37

We may add that, as Mr. Justice Edwards was duly reminded during the argument—(C. 34-5)—Mr. Meikle's claim twelve years ago and now is in precisely the same position as that of a Supreme Court Judge who, having been removed from the Bench owing to a technical flaw in his appointment, petitions Parliament for redress. In each case the appeal is not to "bounty "or charity, but to the justice and the, honour of the country, and Parliament is certainly not going to make any distinction between the cases on the ground that in the one a judge was the victim and in the other a party to the wrong.