Monday, April 20, 2009

Kier Hardie and "Justice" 1909

"Justice" and "The Times."
House of Commons
Debate 05 August 1909

§ Mr. J. CULLINAN (for Mr. J. Dillon)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his attention had been called to a letter recently published in "The Times" newspaper in which the murder of Sir Curzon Wyllie was defended and political assassination advocated; and why the police seized the newspaper called "Justice" on Sunday, 25th July 1909, and took no action against "The Times" for the publication alluded to above?


The police seized "Justice" because it contained a letter signed "Wat Tyler," which was a clear incitement to violence, and likely to provoke a disturbance of the peace. Copies of two posters of the same character and issued from the same quarter were also seized. The police acted rightly, and if it is thought otherwise proceedings can be taken against them. I cannot discuss the grounds upon which it is decided that action is to be taken or not to be taken in 1976 such cases; but I may point out, first, that the letter referred to was published in "The Times" with no criminal intent, but with the view of reprobating the seditious matter which it contained; and, secondly, that no copies of that letter, so far as I am aware, were distributed in such a manner as to be likely to incite to crime, or to provoke breaches of the peace, and therefore to call for action on the part of the police.


Does the right hon. Gentleman say that "Justice" excites to crime and violence, while the letter in "The Times ' docs not excite?


I have definitely stated that the copies of "Justice" seized by the police contained matter which was a direct incitement to violence and crime.


Are the police to be the sole judges as to whether it is an incitement to violence and crime or are they to be judges of motive, because the right hon. Gentleman has referred to criminal intent?


I take full responsibility for the action of the police.


Were the police authorised by the Home Secretary to make the seizure?


The police are always authorised to take action when they see anything done calculated to incite to violence and to a breach of the peace. They have my standing sanction to such action.

§ Mr. REES

May I ask whether the editorial columns of "The Times" did not express the utmost reprobation of the principles expressed in the letter published, and whether on that account it can be suggested that "The Times" in any way favoured this man and his propaganda by publishing the letter?


I have already alluded to that in the answer.


Justice was the newspaper of the Social Democratic Federation