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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

The Templeton Mare's Nest

The Templeton Mare's Nest.

In any reasonable view the affirmative case for the Crown was of the weakest possible character—about 90 percent weaker by reason of the special circumstances above mentioned than any ordinary case which depends almost entire upon the evidence of a single hired informer must necessary be. But it must be conceded that the prosecution was great aided—probably, indeed, saved from total collapse—by the blunders of the defence. Of "the gross perjury committed Meikle's behalf by the witness Templeton," which Mr. Jus Ward regarded as the most suspicious feature of the defence is indeed enough to say that it existed solely in the imaginations of the Judge. A venial error in an irrelevant date of a kind which the most accurate of men are making every day which they have no written or printed record to guide them can never have affected twelve plain men of average fairness and intelli- page 15 gence as "gross perjury." At any rate, the fact that the witness when called before the Commission in Dunedin for the express purpose of cross-examination on this very point should have been allowed to leave the box without a single question about it from counsel for the Crown or the Commissioners amount to a triumphant refutation of the Judge's wild charges and affords another example of the outrageous injustice which has been heaped upon the unfortunate Meikle. In 1895, Mr. justice Ward informed the Public Petitions Committee that Templeton's offence might have sufficed to convict Meikle even after the elimination of Lambert's testimony. In 1906 the trenchant exposure by Mr. Meikle's counsel of the Judge's misstatements and the witness's repetition and explanation his previous evidence were allowed to pass unchallenged, he public censure now pass from this much-abused witness he man upon whom his imaginary sins have been visited the Judge who, from a position which defied cross-examination a, had so cruelly maligned them both!