Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Riots, railways and rough justice

I often share pieces from the 'papers on here. Well, today is no exception, and whilst, on the back of a frank exchange of views I had with the official twitter feed of the Lords Spiritual, I was pleased to see some sense from former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey in the Daily Mail today, I have gone for a piece in today's Times...

I only noticed last night, packing Step Mum's prized newspapers from the Eastbourne riots (£1 plus postage off Ebay!) away having read from them at band practice, that the piece on the court judgement was published 120 years ago today. It turns out that there is to be no extravagant celebration of this particular 120th anniversary, although I look forward to seeing the locals' film some time.

The account of the events which led to the court case were reported in the 4 January edition, describing the chaos as the police set upon the Army march (which was not even playing!):
"In the scuffle several women were knocked down and had their clothes torn; both men and women lost their caps and bonnets, and one musical instrument was thrown into the sea and another considerably damaged. Ultimately, the Salvationists again got together and marched back to the citadel in procession."
Our corps has, for the time being at least, managed to face down the risk of a threat to our existence, but not even our reviled local authority have banned marching with instruments on a Sunday, as happened in Eastbourne - and even if they did, we wouldn't expect to be set upon by the police. The bench found in the brave Salvationists' favour and noted that they had every right to do as they had done:

Rather, it was deemed, in the matter of 'breach of the peace' that it was those who chose to give them a hostile reception that chose to put 'the peace' at risk:

Ironic that. That's what happened when we went to the Salvation Army corps you attend, last year. A mob set on us, the police got involved, and ultimately it was determined that we'd done nothing wrong and that those who had chosen to take offence were the only ones who were up for a scrap. That's classic Little Grandad tactics - incite a fight and then claim a big man did it and ran away.

Nobody ever apologised for what happened that day, which is sad. I am firmly of the view that as Christians, we have much to learn in these days, from our forebears who knew real hardship, lest we sleepwalk back into such days.

I sat and read the1892  judgement this afternoon, and stitched together several scans in order to make up a full size copy which you might be interested to look at. (Click here to download the pdf)

As I looked elsewhere on the page, I was amazed what else they were writing of in the legal round-up that day. A case involving the Attorney-General defending the Great Western Railway from a claim by an insurance company that they failed to use appropriate spark arrestors on their locomotives and had set fire to a man's barn by failing to take appropriate precautions. The slightly dry but very detailed reporting of the proceedings revealed that the great and the good of railway engineering were there! William Dean of the GWR was backed up in his evidence by the Midland Railway's Samuel Johnson, Dugald Drummond from Scotland, and George Whale, deputy loco superintendent of the LNWR. The mechanical engineering fraternity won their case, too.
In the light of recent unfortunate events with 'Lamiel' on the main line, it was particularly interesting. Oh to have been a fly on the wall that day.

Finally on the page, we have a divorce and child custody case! Interestingly, the father, representing himself, was found guilty of cruelty upon examination of evidence, and the judge permitted him to cross-examine his wife (I have to say I am wholly in favour of this; if you are prepared to bring a case and make allegations in a family court, you have to be prepared to stick by them and be questioned on them in court, as would be the case in criminal law) at that. That said, the respondent father explained that he was LIP due to want of means, and whilst he was clearly no saint, so too was he was clearly disadvantaged before the court. Custody was awarded to the mother, who was awarded decree nisi (they did it all in one hit back then, it seems). Notable in the proceedings was the application of the principle of condonation, which has no place in family law any more, to my understanding.

The Salvation Army getting in scrapes with a local authority, sparks from a steam locomotive causing fires, and a litigant in person father losing in court. 120 years ago today, the world was not as different as we might imagine!

Love from Daddy

No comments: