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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Smudging the Date

Smudging the Date.

Lumbert's story remained substantially as before, except that he now endeavoured to prove that he had not fixed the time on the 17th October, but only "on or about the 17th "—a vagueness for which there was not an atom of evidence except own statement, and which was flatly contradicted by the Registrar of the Supreme Court, the foreman of the jury, and her unimpeachable witnesses. Whether the correct date was the 17th October, or on or about the 17th, there was definite perjury here; he had sworn positively to the 17th to convict Meikle, and began to smudge in order to acquit himself. But as to the substance of his charge against Meikle, Mr. Justice Williams was careful to point out to the jury that it was not to page 18 be treated as perjured because of an innocent error in the date:—

"As to the question of date he (His Honour) could not very well see any very great importance in it. It had been said that if Lambert swore positively in 1887 that it was the 17th October on which the thing happened, and it was not so-therefore Lambert would have committed perjury. But that was not the case. If Lambert swore wrongfully as to the date, but rightly to the sheep having been removed, it would be absurd to suggest that fixing the date wrongfully was other than a mistake if it was true that on some date or other about that time he saw Arthur Meikle drive the sheep. (P. 48.)

But the advantage of this broad and generous ruling was quite insufficient for Lambert's protection.