Clause 10. — (Extracts from Parliamentary Reports.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Defamation (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1952.

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Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West 12:00 am, 27th June 1952

I moved this Clause in Committee. I am sure that the whole House shares my regret today that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) is not with us because he would have added to our debate, as this was his proposal. I should like to tell the House, in confidence, just what happened. My hon. and learned Friend was engaged in one of those private meetings of Members in another part of the House which are fully and accurately reported in the Press. He handed his notes to me and asked me to move the Clause.

It was moved to help the Stationery Office. They do not want to be helped. In those circumstances, I do not see why I should worry about it for very much longer. Had the Attorney-General moved this Amendment on that ground, I should have left it at that. But he made some observations on the law which he ought to know is a very dangerous thing to do. We have had a classic example today that there is an important point here. I am glad to see that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Horn-church has been able to join us.

It will be remembered that in Committee I quoted the case of Lord Barnard, who quarrelled with his solicitor —a fatal thing to do—and decided to say the rudest things he could about his solicitor in a speech in the House of Lords which, of course, was absolutely privileged and which was a new form of being rude to one's lawyer.

Unfortunately, he then decided to disseminate the statement. In respect of that dissemination he was prosecuted, convicted and, I believe, fined £100 and sentenced to three months imprisonment. That was what I would call a happy ending to an interesting story. This morning my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) voiced similar statements about the legal profession. Heaven knows where it may end if he pursues these observations. I have it in mind that my right hon. Friend's principal contacts have been with Law Officers and with ex-Law Officers, and he may necessarily have a somewhat jaundiced view.