THE MORNING POST APRIL 3 1913
TRIAL OF MRS. PANKHURST
THE OUTRAGE AT WALTON-ON-THE HILL
CASE FOR THE PROSECUTION
At the Central Criminal Court yesterday, before Mr. Justice Lush and a jury, Mrs. Pankhurst surrendered to take her trial on an indictment charging “that you on the 10th day of January this year, and on other days between that day and the 19th February of this year, feloniously did counsel, procure, mover, incite, and command certain persons unknown to commit felony; that is to say, to place in a certain building in the Parish of Walton a certain quantity of gunpowder with intent to destroy the said building.” In a second count she was charged with inciting persons to place the gunpowder in the building with intent to damage it, and there were other counts varying the indictment. Defendant pleaded not guilty.
Mr. A. H. Bodkin and Mr. Travers Humphreys prosecuted, and Mrs. Pankhurst, who conducted her own defence, was assisted by her solicitor, Mr. Marshall. There was a crowded court.
Mr. Bodkin, in opening the case, briefly describe the explosions in the house at Walton, Surrey, on February 19, which he said, was undoubtedly an offence against the Malicious Damage Act of 1861. The outrage was committed in the dead of night, and the persons who were concerned in it had consequently not been arrested. Mr. Pankhurst was charged with being an accessory before the fact, and it was not suggested that she was present at the outrage. The evidence pointed most clearly to the fact that the women-probably two in number – who committed the crime were members of the Women’s Social and Political Union, and testimony brought against the accused would be of the most satisfactory kind. It would consist of her own admissions of having incited and procured the commission of the crime. Speeches were delivered by her at meetings in London and elsewhere which were all of them a directincitement to crime, and which contained for the purpose of giving force to that indictment admissions by the speaker of the prominent position in which she stood towards the various outrages which she commented on and announced to her audience.. The house which was wreaked by the explosion was owned by Sir George Riddell, who was building it – and it was believed by the defendant – for the purpose of its being occupied as a country house by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That the outrage was intended to be directed against Mr. Lloyd George was clear from the malicious statements which the defendant had made about him in the course of her speeches. Counsel then introduced a letter, which was not read in the police proceedings, and which, he said, was found during the raid upon the “Suffragist arsenal” in a West End studio. This letter contained the following passages:
“We must prepare beforehand to deal with the situation. There are degrees of militancy. Some women are able to go further than others in militant action, and each woman is the judge of her own duty. To be militant in some way or other is further a moral obligation. It is a duty which every woman will owe to her own conscience, to the self-respect of other women who are less fortunate that she is herself, and to all those who come after her. . . . Will you tell me by letter – if it is not possible to do so by word or mouth – that you are ready to take your share in manifesting in a practical manner your indignation at the betrayal of our cause? – Yours sincerely, E. PANKHURST.”
A letter of that kin,” remarked counsel, said, in plain language, “if we do not get what we want the Government and its members will be responsible, and the Government ant the public will be bullied into giving us what we want.
A CAMPAIGN OF OUTRAGE
Mr. Bodkin then read extracts from reports of speeches delivered by the defendant in connection with the withdrawal of the Franchise Bill. In one of her speeches she observed that the Militant Suffragists would respect human life. “Perhaps,” proceeded Mr. Bodkin, “it is a small glimmer of satisfaction for one to know that, but if the candle in the Walton outrage had burned another half hour that would have been an empty expression indeed.” Referring to Mrs. Pankhurst`s speech at the London Pavilion on February 2, counsel quoted her statement, “So long as I am at liberty, I shall be plotting and planning and arranging with my colleagues every item in this campaign which we have undertaken.” What, asked counsel, did she mean. She congratulated the assembly on the excellent pieces of guerrilla warfare. What was putting stuff on golf links? What was breaking windows? What destroying business letters? Was each item not part of the campaign for which she took full liberty unless it were true that she had been plotting and planning and knew, as she did perfectly well, that that amounted to a conspiracy and crime against the law, and that so long as she was at liberty she would continue to do this? Mr. Bodkin quoted Mrs. Pankhurst further as to “soldiers who have fallen by the wayside.” The wayside,” he said, “is at Holloway, and, as she says in a self-congratulatory passage latter, the number of soldiers who have fallen is nothing as compared with the amount of damage they have done.
Mrs. Pankhurst – Some of them are dead.
Mr. Bodkin – That may be; they would be alive now if they acted as ordinary citizens have to act in a community like ours. Counsel went on to speak of the outrage at Kew Gardens, and referred sarcastically to “earning the V.C. of the Women`s Social and Political Union by dragging orchids up by their roots.” He added that the speech of Mrs. Pankhurst which he had quoted was summed up in the sentence: “We shall go on and all the ingenuity that Providence has endowed us with will be used to hold up the country until the affairs of women are attended to.” That was the scheme that this Union had set out to bring about. Mr. Bodkin next read extracts from Mrs. Pankhurst`s speech at Cardiff, in which she declared that she took full responsibility for the Walton outrage and all the outrages which had preceded it. If her assertions were not true, then these speeches said Counsel, were the most discreditable effusions that ever a so-called leader uttered, simply to bamboozle her emotional followers. Unless she was speaking the truth they were most discreditable. Which position Mrs. Pankhurst took up was the question for the jury and they in that Court had to play their part in putting an end to a condition of things which was perfectly and absolutely intolerable.
THE DAMAGE AT WALTON
Evidence was then called for the prosecution. James Grey, foreman in charge of the work at Walton, said it would cost £400 to £450 to repair the damage done by the explosion. Witness roughly “reconstructed” the unexploded bomb which he found in a cupboard of the house on the morning of the explosion. The tin which had contained gunpowder and a pan full of shavings he connected with a black rag and erected a stump of candle in the middle of the shavings. He told the defendant that the candle had burned to within an inch of the shavings.
Defendant asked another witness. Inspector Tugday, of the Surrey Constabulary, how long he thought the candle would have taken to burn to the shavings? – Witness put the period at about an hour.
The Judge remarked that this sounded rather an erroneous calculation, and suggested that the candle could be brought during the adjournment, and they would thus be able to calculate how long it would take to burn.
Mrs Pankhurst – What I want to prove is the unwarrantable nature of the suggestion in the opening address with regard to the burning of that candle.
The witness added that a woman`s golosh was found near the house after the explosion. In cross-examination by the defendant he denied that the golosh was made for a man.
Defendant – After having seen your wife`s boot, do you still say it is a woman`s golosh? – Yes. I think that would just fit it [Laughter.]
The Judge offered to send for the schoolgirl who found the golosh, but Mr. Pankhurst remarked: “Although by English law the girl is marriageable and old enough to take the responsibility of a family, I don`t want a girl of twelve to come into this Court.”
Chief Inspector J. Mc Brien, of New Scotland Yard, produced a letter which was found in the “Suffragist arsenal.” Cross-examined by the defendant, witness said he did not know that the letter was published in the papers and commented upon in leading articles some time before the witness found it.
Major Cooper-Key [Chief Inspector of Explosives to the Home Office] said he had experimented with the candle referred to by an earlier witness. He found that it burnt half an inch in half an hour. In his opinion the explosion of the second bomb would have occurred had not the oil which was sprinkled on the shavings caused them to shrink away from the candle.
Mrs Pankhurst – Would you be prepared to go as far as counsel for the prosecution and suggest that the people who put the things there deliberately intended that they should explode when the workmen came into the house?
Both the Judge and Mr. Bodkin denied that this suggestion had been made, and Mrs. Pankhurst retorted: “I am glad an unpleasant impression has been removed.”
The defendant asked that the text of her speeches as reported by the police should be read, and much time was occupied in this process. Mrs. Pankhurst cross-examined a Scotland Yard reporter as to the accuracy of his notes, and remarked: “One outcome of this cross-examination is to show that the witness is a very incapable person in dealing with this sort of work.”
The Judge – Does Mrs. Pankhurst speak fast or slow?
Witness – Very mediocre, my Lord. [Loud laughter.]
The Judge – When does a speaker become difficult to report? What horse-power – [laughter] – how many words per minute: – She becomes rather difficult when she is heckled.
You may say she is not a particularly difficult speaker? Oh, no?
Cissie Savage, twelve years old, said she had been to see the wrecked house and found the golosh near it.
CONTENTION FOR THE CROWN
The Judge [to Mr. Bodkin] – I am not quite sure how you present this case. There are ways of regarding it. Do you only ask the jury to say that the defendant specifically counseled the perpetration of this outrage, or do you also say, looking at her speeches that you have read – [assuming you prove that they were uttered] that the language used, being a general incitement to damage property, anybody who acted on that invitation and perpetrated this particular outrage would be incited by her to do it? I want the defendant to understand; I think it is fair that she should know how you put the case.
Mr. Bodkin – I say that the speeches generally are incitements to all kinds of acts of violence against property, and that they present evidence of attacks against property believed to be the property of a particular individual, and that there is evidence in the speeches which have been, and will be proved, of admissions by Mrs. Pankhurst of having been connected with the particular outrage in a way which makes her in law an accessory before the fact.
The Judge – But you don1t confine the case to the latter way of putting it?
Mr. Bodkin – No, my Lord.
The Judge – If the jury are not satisfied that she was directly connected with the particular outrage by counseling it, you still ask the jury to say that by counseling, as you say she did, in the speeches, the destruction of property – especially belonging to a particular gentleman – that anybody who acted on that and committed this outrage would have been incited by her speeches.
Mr. Bodkin – Yes, my Lord
The Judge [to the defendant] – Do you understand?
Mrs Pankhurst – Quite perfectly, my Lord.
Defendant was then released on bail, subject to her entering into the undertaking she had previously given