Suffragette May 3 1913





Some remarkable disclosures were made at Bow-street Police Court yesterday, when seven women connected with the Women’s Social and Political Union who were already under remand were again brought up on the conspiracy charge. With them were two new defendants – Mr. Edwy Godwin Clayton, an analytical chemist of Richmond, who arrested on Thursday evening, and Mr. A. G. Drew, manager of a printing company, who had been arrested early yesterday morning, both of who were associated in the general charge. Some of the documents which had been seized by the Scotland Yard detectives were read in Court. These were of an extraordinary character and gave details as to the militant plan of campaign. They included suggestions for attacks on street fire alarms, on timber yards and cotton mills, and on Government offices. The reading of the different documents occupied a considerable time, and after evidence of speeches delivered at certain of the Suffragist meetings had been given, the defendants were remanded.

Flora Drummond, Annie Kenney, both described as organisers, of the Women’s Social and Political Union, Harriet Roberta Kerr, manager and officer of the same union, Agnes Lake, business manager of the Suffragette, Rachel Barrett, assistant editor of the same paper, Laura Geraldine Lennox, sub-editor, and Beatrice Helen Sanders, financial secretary of the Union, were charged on remand before Mr. Curtis Bennett at Bow-street Police Court yesterday with conspiring together, and with Mrs. Pankhurst, Miss Christabel Pankhurst, and other members of the Union, on October 1, 1912, and subsequent dates to cause damage to property. Edwy Godwin Clayton, scientific chemist and author, Kew-road Richmond, and Sidney Granville Drew, manager and secretary, Tudor-street, were similarly charged.

Mr. Bodkin [instructed by Mr. William Lewis] conducted the case on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Charles Mathews, who was in Court, and occupied a seat near Mr. Clarke Hall, the newly appointed police Magistrate, The Hon. F. Bigham, Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police, was also present.

Mr. E. D. Muir appeared for all the defendants, with the exception of Drew, who was defended by Mr. Coppan.

Mr. Bodkin said he was not yet prepared – owing chiefly to the great amount of material he had to deal with – to open the case, and at the conclusion of such evidence as he had to offer he must ask for a further remand.

Detective-Inspector Hawkins, of Scotland Yard, said he was one of the officers engages in the arrest of some of the defendants on April 30. At eleven o`clock that morning he went to a house in Mecklenburgh-square, Gary’s Inn-road, which was let out in flats. Miss Kenney and Miss Barrett lived there. On a table in the vestibule he found a book entitled “Bristol Riots, 1831” In the book he found some loose papers covered with writing. On going into Miss Kenny’s bed-room he discovered a postcard headed “Wednesday, 9.30 p.m.” At 7.30 on Thursday evening he went, with Detective-Sergeant Mole, to Clayton’s residence at Richmond. Clayton was there, and witness told him he held a warrant for his arrest. When it was read to him he said: “I think it is rather a high action. I am an extreme sympathiser with the Segregate cause.” What evidence have you against me?” Witness produced the card and papers referred to, and replied: “This card and the papers referred to, and replied: “This card and these papers.” Looking at the card Clayton said: “I wrote that. Perhaps I ought to say nothing at this moment.” Clayton was conveyed to Bow-street Police Station, where he was charged under the Malicious Damage Act, He made no reply. At the police station Clayton wrote a letter to Mr. Marshall, solicitor, and having examined that witness was of opinion that the papers and card found at Miss Kenny’s flat were in the same handwriting. At Clayton’s house he found a number of papers, which he had not yet had time to examine. Clayton was a chemist and analyst, and at rooms he occupied at Holborn-viaduct a laboratory was fitted up.

Mr. Bodkin said the postcard read as follows:

“Wednesday, 9.30 p.m.

“Dear Miss Kenney – I am sorry to say it will be several days yet before I can be ready with that which you wanted. I have devoted all the evening and all yesterday evening to the business without success. Evidently a difficult matter, but not impossible. I verily believe, galling as it is to write it, I nearly succeeded once last night, and then spoilt what I had done in trying to improve upon it. By next week I shall be able to manage. The exact proportions are very important to hit evidently. I will let you have results as soon as I think them good enough. Please burn this. With best wishes and earnestly hoping that you are much better, I am, yours sincerely, “Edwy G. Clayton.”

“P.S. – I am awfully disappointed at having to keep you waiting longer than I anticipated.”

Mr. Bodkin said the first paper found by Detective Inspector Hawkins read:
“Various Suggestions.”

“[1] Scheme of simultaneously smashing a considerable number of the street fire alarms.
“This appears to be an exceptionally good idea. It will cause tremendous confusion and excitement, and should be at once easier and less risky to execute than some other operations. Six or Eight operators might be told off, each to a district for which she is responsible – Mayfair, Westminster, the City, St. Pancras or Bloomsbury, Islington, Southwark or Bermondsey, Camden Town, &c. A day or so before she should visit her district, note the places and distances and one the night, armed with a muffled stone or hammer, she could walk rapidly from one to another, smash the glass, pull the handle, with a well-gloved hand, and so on, of course at each alarm selecting a moment when no one is about. All should start operations at one and the same previously fixed hour. In one journey, as I think I mentioned, I noted down the following places where there are street fire alarms: Regency-place, Westminster; corner of Downing-street, and Whitehall, corner of Trafalgar-square, corner of St. Martin’s-lane, outside Parr`s Bank, Charing-cross-road, corner of New Compton-street, corner of Oxford-street and Rathbone-place, junction of Charing-cross-road and High-street, Bloomsbury.

[2] Certain smaller Government offices into which entrance might be effected, or where something might be done – Post Office Telegraph Engineers` Department, York-street, Westminster. A yard open to the street, with wooden galleries on each side; easy to rush in and out. The head office of the telephone system, Addle-hill Here the basement windows are frequently open, and it would be most easy to throw in missiles from the street while just passing by. An out-of-the-way corner of Doctors` Commons, where I do not remember to have ever seen a constable. The Paymaster-General’s office, Whitehall. An old fashioned wood-fitted office. Go in with some cock-and-bull story about a pension. [Laughter from the female prisoners.] Also Somerset House is very easily entered from Wellington-street or the Strand.”

The second paper, Mr. Bodkin said, read as follows:

“Timber Yards. – I have a list of seven in various parts of London, which I hope to inspect during the next few days. One, indeed, I have already submitted to a reconnaissance. That is in the neighbourhood of Farringdon-road. It lends itself particularly well to attack al because, even if the gate were at night to be fast closed, as would almost certainly be the case, the timber is exposed to view – and to projectiles through open trellis-work of iron which replaces the usual fence or wall. The street, too, is somewhat out of the way, squalid, and, I should think, likely to be deserted, or nearly so, after eleven or twelve at night. It is unlikely that there is a night watchman, for a friend, whom you know, inquired over the telephone in my presence of a person with whom he was acquainted – a member of another firm – whether there was anyone on the premises at night, and the answer was “No”. Also that they close at six. This is probably typical of others.”

The third document read:
“Cotton Mills. – Most of these, of course, are in the North, but I have made a list of two cotton manufacturers, two cottonwool manufacturers, and seven cotton waste merchants in London, and during the next few days I will inspect some of them and report. Have not had time for it yet”

The fourth paper was as follows:

“National Health Insurance Commission [England] – The chief offices are a building, formerly, I am told, the Wellington Court Hotel, filling the angle between Buckingham-gate and York-street, opposite to Westminster Chapel. At the back is a narrow yard, from which an outside iron staircase leads up to the first floor. Beyond the year, which is enclosed by wooden palings and gates, are small houses. At the back of these is a motor garage, behind which is a very narrow alley, leading through from one stand to the other. [Then followed a rough sketch plan of the district indicated]

“Immediately inside the York-street door is a narrow staircase, leading down to the basement rooms on the York-street side, the windows of which are heavily barred; but it is clear that these rooms are used by part of the clerical staff, and that numerous papers and receptacles for documents are there. It might be possible, when the York-street door porters back was turned, to dash down this staircase into one of these rooms. Risk of capture very great. Across the hall, and nearly opposite to the main, or York-street door, is a small office with a window for “inquiries,” and there are other rooms, entered from the hall, with short green blinds over the lover portions of the glass panels. On the left hand side of the part of the entrance hall entered by the Buckingham-gate door is a large waiting-room, on the table of which are piles of leaflets and pamphlets, from which visitors can help themselves.

“To the entrance hall, inquiry office, and waiting room there is quite open access, but on my visit to the interior of the building I was not successful in framing a query which the clerk in the inquiry office was unable to tackle. Evidently it is not a very easy matter to gain access to the upper floors and inner chambers of this building. But I gleaned largely from the stock of pamphlets in the waiting room, and after a perusal of some of them I may be able to concoct a knotty problem which will necessitate my being sent upstairs to some “chief” for its elucidation – that is to say, if the information in this paper is insufficient for your purpose, and you will let me know. In the ground floor of the building, on the Buckingham-gate side, is a series of rooms with seven large plate glass windows looking on to that thoroughfare. Green blinds cover the lower halves, but it can be seen from the street that the rooms are stacked with wooden cases of pigeon holes containing papers, and that many documents are littered about the furniture. This building does not appear to be watched from without. I saw no policeman about upon any one occasion, not even in the neighbourhood. It would be easy to smash each of the large windows above mentioned, and escape might be possible through the narrow court leading into York-street. Having broken a window the operator might have time to throw in a previously kindled paraffin or benzoline torch [a stick with rags at one end dipped in the liquid] among the papers. But how to enter the building, eluding the vigilance of the two porters [ and an inquiry room clerk] and proceed further than the waiting-room I confess I do not at present see. At a “slack time” say, during an afternoon, one might find oneself alone in the waiting-room – as I did, and with great good luck, one might have time to leave some fire-lighters, pour out some inflammable liquid such as benzoline, methylated spirits, or paraffin, apply a light, and instantly walk out of the building by the nearest, or Buckingham-gate door. But the porter would probably be standing just inside the hall door, close to the entrance of the waiting-room. These porters are a grave difficulty. I don’t see how one could go upstairs without being stopped.

“The branch offices are at 29, Queen Anne’s-gate, and in some respects this building lends itself better to attack than the chief office. There is one door only, leading into a narrow passage, on the left of which, just inside, is a double glass-panelled door, green-curtained, communicating with a large room on the ground floor. This room is fitted with pigeon holes, shelves, and tables, stocked and piled up with all sorts of documents, and the room is so close to the entrance that escape might be tolerable easy. In this room, however, three or four young clerks work. Facing the street door is a steep staircase, leading to the first floor, which I was able to visit without molestation. Indeed, I looked into two rooms upon that floor, just rather scantily furnished offices. Going downstairs again. I met the hall porter emerging from some ground-floor room at the back of the house. When I first entered, no porter and no other person was in the entrance hall. Evidently there is not such a strict internal watch kept at this house as at the chief office. Moreover it is obviously a tremendous stores of papers and stationery. The basement so far as I could see through the partially-opened windows [only just above the street level], is packed with stationery. The contents should burn well. The street is a quiet corner of a comparatively little frequented thoroughfare. The lower windows referred to could easily be attacked with stones of hammers, and inflammable bodies could be thrown in already lighted. The basement windows are sometimes opened from the top for ventilation. The worst of it is that nearly certainly one or more persons live upon the premises of such buildings as these as caretakers or resident housekeepers, sometimes, although not always, in the lower storeys.
“N.B. – There is no plate indicating what the building is – only the number 29.”
Mr. Bodkin said a plan of Queen Anne’s-gate appeared on the paper.
The name and address “E. G. Clayton, consulting chemist, analyst, and assayer, Holborn-viaduct,” appeared on the backs of two of the papers.
Mr. Muir said he had only just been instructed and had no questions to ask.

Chief Detective-inspector Fowler, of Scotland Yard, gave evidence as to arresting Drew that morning at the offices, of the Victoria House Printing Company [Limited], Tudor-street. When the warrant was read to him he said “I see.” He said nothing when he was formally charged at Bow-street. The witness produced three documents which were handed to him at the office referred to and a copy of the Suffragette of May 2, bearing the imprint “Printed by the Victoria House Printing Company [Limited], T.U., Tudor-street, E.C., and published by the Women’s Press, Lincoln’s Inn House, Kingsway, W.C.”

Police-constable O`Connor produced the transcript of his shorthand notes of speeches delivered by Mrs. Pankhurst, Mrs. Drummond, and Mr. George Lansbury at the Horticultural Hall on January 23, and other officers produced reports of speeches made at various Suffragist meetings.

Mr. Charles Fraser, a reporter on the Daily Telegraph staff, who attended on subpoena, produced a report of a speech delivered by Mrs. Drummond at the Albert Hall on April 10, when about 7,000 people were present. It contained the following statement, made after the collection had been taken:

“Most of the money goes in constitutional work, and some of it in meetings like this, It does not take much for paraffin oil and shavings.”

The defendants were remanded.

Mr. Muir, in applying for bail for Miss Lennox, said she received a salary of only £2 a week as sub-editor of the Suffragette, and was in no way responsible for what appeared in the paper.

Mr. Bodkin said he would not oppose the application if Miss Lennox would undertake in the interim not to take part, directly in indirectly, in the militant movement, by public speaking or otherwise, and not to take part in the printing or distribution of the Suffragette.

Mr. Coppam, asking that Mr. Drew should be allowed bail, said his position was different from the other defendants, the mere printing of one copy of the paper being all the connection he had had with the cause.

Mr. Drummond – We do not know the man.

Mr. Bodkin asked that Mr. Drew should give an undertaking not to issue or circulate any publication in the meantime concerning the suffrage question.

Both Miss Lennox and Mr. Drew gave the undertakings asked for. Miss Lennox was allowed bail in her own recognisance in £50 and two sureties of £25 each, and Mr. Drew`s bail was fixed at himself in £100 and two sureties of £50 each.

Mr. Curtis Bennett said he would not consider the question of bail for the other defendants until after he had heard counsel’s opening statement on Monday.

At three o`clock yesterday afternoon the police, having removed all documents and impounded goods from the offices of the Women’s Social and Political Union, allowed certain members of the staff to resume possession of Lincoln’s Inn House, Kingsway. The permission granted was promptly taken advantage of, and amid considerable excitement and not a little amusement on the part of a crowd assembled outside the Union1s flag was quickly hoisted on the staff which surmounts the roof of the building.

Since Tuesday the police have been paying surprise visits to the houses of Suffragist leaders and other persons under suspicion in connection with the militant outrages. In addition to that of Miss Kenney, the dwellings of Mrs. Sanders, Mrs Drummond, Miss Lake, Miss Barrett, and others have been visited in this way. In every case all papers appearing to have the slightest bearing on the militant agitation were seized, and the result is to place the police in possession of documentary evidence implicating a large number of individuals of both sexes. The extent to which proceedings may follow will be determined by the ability of the authorities to supplement their information by confirmatory evidence.



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