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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Mon 31 Dec 2012 - 23:49

Fifty-sixth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, February 26, 1889






* Before I begin transcribing the fifty-sixth day of proceedings of this commission, I would first like to notify my readers that after poring through the entire newspaper of Saturday February 23, 1889, I did not find any mention of a confession from Mr. Richard Pigott in the newspaper; and there is no way that Pigott could have confessed at the trial on Saturday since the commission never convened on Saturday. Several websites on Richard Pigott have stated that he broke down at the Commission and confessed which is not true.

The Commission Court, for half-an-hour before the proceedings commenced this morning, presented a scene of extraordinary animation and excitement. It was crowded, almost as soon as the door opened, with a fashionable, eager throng of ladies and gentlemen, who kept up a busy hum of conversation. Mr. Parnell and Mr. Davitt strolled in a few moments after ten o'clock, followed by Mr. Biggar, Mr. Labouchere, Mr. T. Healy, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Wemyss Reid, and Mr. Jacob Bright. Mrs. Gladstone sat in one of the artists' seats amongst several journalists. On the Parnellite side there were visible signs of activity. Mr. Parnell had a pile of books and documents before him, Mr. Michael Davitt critically examined the contents of a small black box, Mr. Campbell deposited on the solicitors' table a large yellow-covered paper parcel, while one of Mr. Lewis's clerks brought into Court a large bundle of cardboard bearing enormous photographs - the letters in which were each about a foot broad - of the signature to the facsimile letter.


There was a long wait after the Judges had taken their seats. A remarkable silence fell over the Court. One could almost hear a pin drop. The Judges looked at each other and leant over in their chairs, and conversed in low whispers; the counsel, and, in fact, everybody in Court, looked curiously and expectantly towards the door through which the burly form of Mr. Pigott emerged so often last week to take its stand in the elevated witness-box. But Mr. Richard Pigott came not.


Then the Attorney-General stood up and leant across the bench, and whispered in Mr. Soames's ear, Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Murphy talked sotto voce, and Sir Charles Russell and Mr. Parnell smiled grimly, and with an air of remarkable mystery. At length, the President evinced signs of impatience. He glanced inquiringly at the Attorney-General, the Attorney-General at Mr. Soames, and Mr. Soames at a deathly pale-faced who stood at the corner of the witness-box, twitching spasmodically with his nervous fingers at his slight moustache.


"Come, Mr. Attorney, where is the witness?" was the scarcely audible query of the President.
The Attorney-General rose very slowly, and his face betrayed unmistakable signs of excitement. "So far as I know, my Lord," he said, and halted a moment. Correcting himself, he went on, "I have no knowledge of the witness. I am informed," he continued, weighing his words with careful precision, and with a strange absence of the rapidity of utterance which is so peculiar to him, "I am informed he was seen at his hotel, but he has not been there ever since eleven o'clock last night - so, at least, Mr. Soames informs me."


Sir Charles Russell was on his feet in an instant. The Attorney-General remained standing, and for a brief moment the two eminent leaders exchanged sharp glances. Sir Charles displayed remarkable coolness.
He showed no signs of excitement. "If that is the case, and if he does not appear," he said, "I will have to ask you, my Lord, to issue a warrant for his apprehension immediately."
The President and his colleagues consulted together. Then Mr. Cunynghame, the secretary, went to their assistance, and they conversed in low tones for a few minutes.
The Attorney-General also held a brief consultation with Mr. Soames, and rising again, said, "Mr. Soames's clerk is here, my Lord, and can give the only information we have about the matter, if you care to ask him."


Their Lordships assented. The pale-faced clerk climbed slowly into the witness-box and leaned over towards the Judges. He spoke in a very low tone of voice. He said his name was George Wear. "By the instructions of Mr. Soames," he continued, "I went to Anderton's Hotel and saw the attendant, and he made enquiries about the place.
"When?" was the President's stern query.
"This morning," Wear replied.
"At what time?"
"At twenty minutes past ten o'clock. They told me," he went on, "that Mr. Pigott had not been there since late last night. In the hurry I didn't ask what time. I presume -
The conclusion of the sentence was not heard, for Sir Charles Russell was at once on his feet, and, eye-glass in hand, he exclaimed, "I do apply, my Lords, for your warrant."
The President, pointing down to the Secretary, retorted, "I have already directed that it be made out. One must give reasonable time, you know."
Sir Charles did not catch the purport of the reply. Again he urged his application, and again the President replied, "I have given instructions. We must have reasonable time."
"Exactly, my Lord," assented Sir Charles; and Mr. Cunynghame assured him that it would be ready in half an hour.
Then followed a colloquy which surely not even the most imaginative mind could have anticipated.
This was its tenour: -


The President (to the Attorney-General) - Is there no other witness you can call?
Sir Richard Webster - In the unexpected absence of this witness, and in view of the evidence he has given in this case, I assume that it makes it necessary, and I think your Lordship will think it right, that I and my learned friends, and those acting with us, should consider as to what further course we shall take in this portion of the case, and it will be unwise to recur again to any other part of the case until we are able to decide what course we shall take.


Sir Charles Russell - Whatever course the Attorney-General thinks it right to take we shall pursue the same course, and insist upon the whole matter being gone through to the bottom, because we deliberately charge that behind Mr. Houston and behind Mr. Pigott there has been a foul conspiracy.
The President - The Court will then adjourn for a quarter of an hour.


Sir Charles Russell (again rising): My Lord, the fact has been mentioned to me, but I am not able to assure you of it, but it has been mentioned to me, that a bundle of documents has arrived at Anderton's Hotel, addressed to Pigott. Will you order an officer of the Court to be sent down to the hotel to take possession of those documents, to be dealt with as your Lordship thinks right. I also understand that the documents are addressed to "Mr. Pigott, care of Mr. Houston."
The Judges rose at 10:40, the President remarking that if in the meantime the witness arrived they would be ready to resume. During the adjournment they would consider the question of the documents.

* I find it rather strange and peculiar that Sir Charles Russell is demanding warrants for Pigott's arrest before the Court has even ascertained what has happened to the man? And what's more, Russell seems to know an awful lot about certain documents back at Anderton's Hotel, almost as if he and his (Parnell) camp had sent/left them there themselves. Very suspicious behaviour is being exhibited by the defence team here.


The interval, uneventful though it was, passed rapidly. The audience laughed and joked with great zest and enterprise, and the Court seemed converted for the nonce into a veritable Babel. One after the other, and very quietly, the Times counsel slipped out of Court. The burly form of Mr. Murphy, with his hands adjusted carefully behind his back, and his glasses hanging against his fob, glided out of the Q.C.'s bench, and disappeared behind the crimson curtains; then Mr. Atkinson, with his good-humoured, smiling face, undimmed by the least cloud, rose and whispered something to Mr. Soames, and walked slowly out; and, finally, the Attorney-General carefully deposited a much-worn document he had been reading on the Bench by a pile of legal books, and strode out through the swinging doors. The vivacity of the audience experienced no check through it all. Ladies in the gallery levelled their opera-glasses curiously at the Parnellite counsel, and the great crowd of Nationalist M.P.'s congregated in the gangway. The M.P.'s kept up a running fire of jokes, and seemed to be on terms of great good humour with themselves, everybody else, and all things in general. (Showing triumphant 'tude.)


Thus the quarter of an hour drew on into the half-hour, and it was a quarter to 12 before the solemn-faced usher appeared on the threshold of the door behind the judicial bench, and exclaimed ominously, "Silence! silence!" - a proceeding which was followed by the reappearance of the Judges. The cause of the extension of the quarter-of-an-hour could not be accurately ascertained; but rumours current in Court were to the effect that Mr. Cunynghame himself had gone down to Anderton's Hotel, in Fleet-street, to make the necessary inquiries as to the whereabouts of the truant witness.


Two or three incidents had meantime quickened the interest of those in Court. A communication was sent out from the Judges to Sir Chas. Russell. At ten minutes past eleven the Attorney-General and his colleagues entered the Court and took their seats again, Mr. Soames and Mr. Macdonald being in front of them. Mr. Cunynghame at once made a communication to the Attorney-General, and then, in reply to an observation by Sir Richard, said he would submit the point raised to the consideration of their Lordships. This was generally understood to apply to the subject of the documents lying at Anderton's Hotel. Mr. Cunynghame, shortly before half-past eleven, again entered the Court, and said the warrant had been made out, and he would authorise Mr. Munro, Chief Commissioner of Police, and an officer mentioned by Sir Charles Russell, and a constable to arrest Pigott. Sir Charles Russell suggested that Inspector Shore should be authorised, and this was agreed to.

* I wouldn't be surprised if some of the letters found at the Anderton's Hotel were written by the Irish M.P.'s, accusing Pigott of being Jack the Ripper himself. Laughing


When the Commissioners had taken their seats,
The Attorney-General said - I have an application, my Lord to make. The witness has not appeared, and so your Lordships have directed a warrant to issue for his arrest. I think it right to inform your Lordships that on Monday morning Mr. Shannon received a letter from the witness, and I think that letter should be put in your Lordships' hands. I do not undertake this course for the purpose of suggesting that the contents of the letter should be regarded as proof of the contents, but, in our view, all the information should be laid before the Court, and probably your Lordships will consider it fit to ask Mr. Shannon the circumstances. I will hand the letter in.


Sir Charles Russell - I am sorry the Attorney-General has not shown me the letter or intimated that he would use it. I would make an application of some little detail, but at not much length. On the 27th of July, 1888, some days after the close of the "O'Donnell v. Walter" case, Mr. Patrick Egan, whose name has been mentioned before your Lordships' Court, wrote a letter addressed to Mr. Labouchere at the House of Commons, and by that letter -
The Attorney-General - I submit that any communication in writing should not be submitted thus to the Court.
Sir Charles Russell - Then why in the other case?
The Attorney-General - Because Pigott as a witness has disappeared, and I think it right to put it before the Court.
Sir Charles Russell (continuing his argument) - In consequence of that letter, and following that letter, a number of documents were handed to Mr. Labouchere, and I was present when the documents were so handed to him, and persons can, if necessary, be called. I cannot charge my recollection of the exact date, but it was before the Special Commission Act under which your Lordships are sitting. As soon as the proceeding was determined upon by the Government -
The President - But what is your application?
Sir Charles Russell - I wish to put before your Lordships information which we think you should have, bearing directly upon Mr. Pigott's disappearance.


The President - But we have to deal with the facts of his disappearance.
Sir Charles Russell - But this is a great deal more of a fact connected with his disappearance, and I claim solemnly, in the interest of justice, that I should be allowed to make my statement.
The President - It is an unusual thing.
Sir Charles Russell - My statement will not be long, but it will be serious.
The President - They should be statements of facts.
Sir Charles Russell said they were, and strong ones.
The President - But you should lay a basis.
Sir Charles Russell - I am about to do it. I have practised for years before your Lordship, and I trust I am in order. I will not make this statement except under a grievous sense of duty.
The President - No, but we have to keep the thing in order. We are now dealing with the disappearance of the witness. I want to know why it is necessary for you now to enter into the statement of facts.


Sir Charles Russell - Because in the interest of justice your Lordships should follow up the clue which I will give you. These papers were straight-way opened and handed to Mr. Lewis. We had the means a priori, of fixing Pigott as the fabricator of the documents. Mr. Lewis saw Mr. Pigott, and from Mr. Pigott got his confession that the letters were forgeries, and that he forged them while in a state of destitution; this will be corroborated by Mr. Parnell and Mr. Labouchere. This is with reference to part of the correspondence which has been read between Mr. Lewis and Mr. Pigott.


Pigott (proceeded Sir Charles), uninvited, came to Mr. Labouchere's house, and said that he desired to make a confession. Mr. Labouchere declined to take it. He straightaway sent for Mr. George Augustus Sala, and, in his presence, signed a written confession that these documents were forgeries, and that he himself forged them. That statement was communicated to Mr. Lewis, and he yesterday morning sent to the hotel the letter which I have in my hand, returning his confession: -

"25th February, 1889.
"Dear Sir, - Mr. Labouchere has informed us" -

The President - This brings us back to the point for which I interrupted you just now. You ought to have given us this in an affidavit.
Sir Charles Russell - I have the witnesses here, and I ask to be allowed to put them in the box at once.
The President - But it is the proper way to make an affidavit on such matters.


Sir Charles Russell expressed dissent in a gesture.
The President (warmly) - Such gestures are not seemly, Sir Charles. You, with your long experience, must know that it is necessary an affidavit should be provided.
Sir Charles Russell - My Lords, I do not care to be unseemly towards your Lordships, but I have so strong sense of the injustice and iniquity of this case that I am determined, whether it is pleasing to you or not, to take every step that I consider proper and that is legitimate.
The President - Those words are not addressed to this tribunal, and are not words that I can in any sense recognise. I am only pointing out to you what you know with your long experience - that a statement of this kind should be put in the form of an affidavit.


Sir Charles Russell - My reasons for proposing what I do are twofold. First, that I may put you in possession of every particle of information we have; and next that you may not have to rely upon affidavits, as we have the witnesses on the spot. And if you say that the regular course is by affidavit, I would urge you that we came here this morning ready to continue the cross-examination of the witness. We had no idea that he would not be here.
Mr. Justice A.L. Smith - What! After that confession to you on Saturday.
Sir Charles Russell - Certainly. Your Lordship may express astonishment, but it is so. This man was in charge of two constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary and two of the Scotland-yard detectives, and I want to ask your Lordships to compel these men to come before the Court and explain under what circumstances they allowed this man to escape from the hands of justice.
The Commissioners having consulted together, the President said they would decide the latter matter after the adjournment, but would allow the letter to be read.


It was dated the 25th of February, was from Messrs. Lewis and Lewis, addressed to Richard Pigott, at Anderton's Hotel, and was, Sir Charles Russell said, delivered at the hotel yesterday by hand. It informed Mr. Pigott that Mr. Labouchere had communicated to Messrs. Lewis the purport of the confession made on Saturday - viz., that the letters purporting to be those of Mr. Parnell, Mr. Egan, Mr. Davitt, and Mr. O'Kelly were forgeries, and had been forged by himself; and that he had consequently committed perjury in the witness-box. It further said that Messrs. Lewis had consulted Mr. Parnell about the matter, and concluded thus: -
"And he instructs us to inform you that he refuses absolutely to hold any communication with you, directly or indirectly, and to return the confession which you made - which we do by hand."
Sir Charles Russell - Now, my Lords, my application to you is to call these constables and ask them why they allowed this man to escape, and to put Mr. Lewis, Mr. Parnell, and Mr. Labouchere in the box at once, and explain what they know about this matter.


The President - I directed a subpoena should be served upon the manager of Anderton's Hotel, and also a subpoena duces tecum to bring forward any documents left there, and he is, I believe, here.
Sir Charles Russell - The documents were, my Lord, addressed to "Pigott, care of Houston, Cork-street." Hence a difficulty and mistake has occurred.
The President - By accident more have been found than you are aware of.
Sir Charles Russell - Oh! I'm pleased to hear that.


Mr. John George Evans at once entered the witness-box, and was questioned by the President. He stated that Mr. Pigott had been staying at Anderton's Hotel, but had now left.
Are you able to tell us anything about his whereabouts? - No, my Lord, I am not.
Mr. Justice Smith - When did he leave? - He has not been seen since half-past four yesterday afternoon.
The President - Do you produce any letters addressed to Pigott? - Yes, a few that arrived this morning.
The President - Then we are of opinion that, in view of the peculiar circumstances of this case, any letter addressed to Richard Pigott at this juncture may be of importance in the case, and therefore we direct that they be opened, but we must exercise our own judgment as to the use of some of them.
The Attorney-General also mentioned that Mr. Houston, who was in Court, had handed an opened letter to Mr. Soames, which he had this morning received, addressed to Mr. Pigott. That letter was now in possession of the Court.


Sir Charles Russell - Will your Lordship ask the witness Evans whether Pigott took his luggage with him.
Witness - No, my Lord; it is still in the hotel.
Sir Charles Russell - Probably your Lordships will think it right to give directions to this gentleman not to part with this luggage, as I think it ought to be searched for documents.
The President - I have no power to do so.


Sir Charles Russell - Mr. Parnell - repugnant as the duty is to him, intends to apply for a warrant for perjury against this man Pigott. Perhaps on that ground your Lordship will have the power.
The President - I have taken this step with regard to the letters owing to a sense of the peculiarity of the circumstances of the case, but I do not feel I can go so far as to direct the luggage to be stopped. I have also forgotten to mention that I have issued the warrant against the witness Pigott. Now, where is Mr. Houston?
Mr. Houston then entered the witness-box, but Sir Charles again rose, and renewed his request that Pigott's luggage should be retained.
The President - We have the letters, I don't see what your object is.
Sir Charles Russell - Other letters, my Lord.


The Attorney-General - I think your Lordships ought to be put in possession of any information I have in the matter. I therefore think that a letter which was dated Sunday night, and written to Mr. Shannon by Mr. Pigott should be read. A statement has been made in Court, and your Lordships ought to be put in possession of any information that we have coming from the witness who is no longer appearing. Their statement, of course, has been made public, and probably your Lordship may think that this statement should be made public also.
Sir Charles Russell - What! a statement from Pigott to a man named Shannon.
The letter was handed to his Lordship, and for the moment the matter dropped.


The President then questioned Mr. Houston, who said that the letter he had produced in Court, and which was addressed to Mr. Pigott, was handed to him (witness) by his landlord this morning.
Did you receive any other letters? - Yes. I received a letter from Pigott asking for money. That letter I produce. Pigott wrote, "I should be greatly obliged if you will let me have the balance of the 33 pounds, which you have repeatedly promised me. I am told that I am to be prosecuted for perjury, and therefore require the money to send home to my poor children."
Sir Charles Russell (after examining the envelope of the letter addressed to Pigott) - When did this letter arrive? - This morning.
Was there any other letter addressed to Mr. Pigott? - No.
You are quite sure? - Perfectly certain.
Was he in the habit of having his letters addressed to your care? - No; this is the first letter sent to my care for Mr. Pigott.
Did you receive, addressed to yourself, any communication containing letters of remote date this morning? - No.
Or yesterday morning? - No.
Or the morning before that? - Nor the morning before that.
Did you receive any of your own letters back from Pigott? - I did not.


The President next opened and examined the letters which were addressed to the missing witness. He then said, "We have examined all these letters, and consider they are all of them of a private nature, with the exception of one. Attached to that one there is a postscript, which, though it is not evidence, should be seen.
The letter was at once handed to Sir Charles Russell, who examined it. Sir Charles then rose and said - I ask your Lordship to allow me to call Mr. George Lewis.
The Attorney-General - I think our matter would come before that. When Mr. Soames was in the box Sir Charles asked for a communication which had passed between Mr. Pigott and Mr. Soames. Mr. Soames had produced it, and Sir Charles asked to be allowed to reserve it until Pigott was examined. The witness, however, had now disappeared, and the letter had not been brought forward. I therefore ask to be allowed to put Mr. Soames into the box again before anything else is done, and have from him the communication which he had from Mr. Pigott with reference to this matter.


The Judges again retired, but after a short absence returned. The President then said: - We are of opinion that the circumstances in which the witness has disappeared is, undoubtedly, of such a character that Sir Charles should desire to put the Court in possession of any information he has on this subject. I will, therefore, allow the witness to be called, but for this purpose only.
The Attorney-General again referred to the matter of the letter written by Mr. Pigott to Mr. Shannon, and which, he pointed out, Mr. Pigott had subsequently sworn to be true. He asked that the letter should be read. "I respectfully submit, too," he added, "that before this evidence is taken, Mr. Soames's evidence should be given."
The President - Oh yes; I forgot. Let Mr. Soames be examined.


Mr. Soames accordingly entered the witness-box, and, at the request of the Attorney-General, read a letter from Mr. Pigott to him, dated 11th November, enclosing the copy of a letter Mr. Pigott had sent to Mr. Houston. The writer said that a statement was got from him in Dublin as to what evidence he could give, when he then named the amount of remuneration he should expect. "You deferred," said Mr. Pigott, "giving your decision until I met you in London, and then you objected to the sum, but said that I might rely upon being fairly dealt with. Nevertheless, you induce me to go to Mr. Soames to talk the matter over, but he took down a statement." Mr. Pigott further said he then wrote a letter in which he was compelled to ask for a clear understanding. He named his price, and said if the Times would agree to give him 5,000 pounds he would give his evidence at length. He was at that time absolutely unpledged to give evidence for the Times. He afterwards wrote (the letter went on to say) complaining of the publication of the facsimile letter as a breach of faith. Mr. Pigott went on to state that the condition under which he would give the information was that his name should be kept secret as he did not wish to place the lives of those who acted with him in danger. Mr. Pigott then declared that if called upon to give evidence he would refuse, no matter what the consequences. Mr. Pigott again in the letter urged that an undertaking had been given that no public use would be made of the letters, and when last he saw Mr. Houston nothing had occurred to bring about an alteration in the state of affairs. He consequently took it that he was not to appear in any possible proceedings, or have any responsible part to discharge, especially after the declaration of the Attorney-General in the trial of "O'Donnell v. Walter," when he stated distinctly that, under no circumstances, would he reveal the names of those persons from whom the letters had been obtained.


However (proceeded Pigott), he wrote to Mr. Macdonald to make his position more secure, and asked that he might be given a written guarantee. This was the reply he received.

"Times Office, 12th July, 1888.
"My Dear Sir, - You ask for a written guarantee that the undertaking given by the Attorney-
General will apply to the future as well as the past confidences between us. I hereby give it to you with very great pleasure. - Yours truly, "J.C. MACDONALD."


Mr. Pigott went on further to say that it was still his conviction that the cross-examination would tend to discredit his examination-in-chief, owing to deficient memory - (laughter) - which would not allow of his being able to dispose of matters positively. He added that it was scarcely necessary to say he considered nothing he had done had tended to alter any decisions arrived at.
The reply to this pointed out that undoubtedly at the time of the trial of "O'Donnell v. Walter" such a guarantee was given. Since then, however, matters had undergone a change. Mr. Houston had given permission to make the names public, and Mr. Pigott had sanctioned that by going to Mr. Soames's office, and actually making out a statement of his evidence. Further than that publicity was rendered absolutely necessary by reason of the conduct of Pigott in seeking the interview with Mr. Parnell, Mr. Labouchere, and Mr. Lewis.


Pigott wrote in reply, still maintaining that the obligation of the Times to maintain secrecy could not be overcome, and suggesting that he should be supplied with funds to escape from the jurisdiction of the Court.
Mr. Soames again wrote that his clients would not see any harm come to Pigott through what he did for their benefit. He expressed the regret that Pigott had talked of going out of the jurisdiction of the Court. He must again persuade him not to do anything of the kind, and most certainly declined to provide him with any funds for such a purpose.
The Attorney-General read another letter from Mr. Soames to Mr. Pigott, in which he told him that he could not any question as to monetary interest for giving evidence. Mr. Pigott, added Mr. Soames, distinctly released him from the pledge as to naming the source from whence the letters came.


Sir Charles Russell - Did Pigott have an interview with Mr. McCarthy? - Yes, in October, shortly after Brien came over. The interview was at Henrietta-street, Covent-garden. It was within a few days after the trial of "O'Donnell v. Walter" that I learned that Pigott was the person from whom the letters came. I do not know when I communicated that to counsel. I won't pledge my belief positively. To the best of my belief I did not tell counsel that Pigott was the source before the Special Commission Act. I made no inquiry as to Pigott's character and antecedents.
Did Mr. Macdonald tell you when he first learned that Pigott was the source from which the letters came? - He did not. Several times in the course of a conversation between Mr. Walter and myself the name of Mr. Pigott cropped up. I had very little conversation with Mr. Walter about it while the Bill of the Special Commission was pending.
Did you know in what form the guarantee of Mr. Macdonald of the 7th July, 1888 included Mr. Pigott? - Your date is wrong. It was the 10th of July.
Do you see that Pigott refers to the 7th of July also? - No.


Do you know what arrangements were made for keeping an eye upon Pigott? - There has been no watch kept upon him of late, but when, all told you before, he went to Mr. Labouchere's he was watched.
Was there not an Irish constable in the hotel? - Not to watch Pigott. He was there to see that he was not interfered with. The detective was at the hotel on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Mr. Pigott was not watched.
We have heard that Mr. Shannon was at the hotel as late as twelve o'clock yesterday? - So I have heard in Court.
By the Attorney-General - It was not before the Commission commenced that counsel was consulted as to Pigott being the source from which the letters came.
Have you directly or indirectly done anything to keep Pigott away? - Certainly not. I have done everything I possibly could to see that he was in Court.
Mr. Shannon was called and stated that he saw Pigott on Thursday last, before his examination commenced. "Then," said Mr. Shannon, "I went down with him to Anderton's Hotel."


After his examination on Friday Mr. Pigott (proceeded the witness) was in very low spirits. He waited in the consultation-room for some time, as there was such a crowd of people in the passages. I saw him again on Saturday evening, at Anderton's Hotel, and also on Sunday evening. On the latter occasion he made a statement to me - first verbally, and afterwards in writing. I told him to keep the document, and to consider it. If he was sure that what he had stated was true he was to send it to me on the following morning. Consequently yesterday morning the constable Gallagher brought that letter to me, together with Pigott's affidavit of its genuineness.


The Attorney-General then read the letter. It was dated Sunday night, and ran as follows: -
"Dear Sir, - Referring to our conversation this evening, I wish to state some facts connected with the letter which I mentioned to you today. In my statement to Mr. Labouchere on Saturday I stated that I had forged all the letters, Parnell, Egan, and others that I gave to the Times. That is not the case." (Laughter.)
The President - Silence must be observed.
The Attorney-General (continuing reading) - "I had got the eleven letters - the first batch I gave to the Times - from a man in Paris, whose name is Patrick Casey. I knew him well, and he is well known to members of the National Party. This is the man I mentioned in my evidence. Murphy was a fictitious name. Casey showed me the letters and the black bag which were left behind by Byrne. Casey had them in his possession for three months before I could induce him to sell them. I gave him three-fourths of the 500 pounds for the letters. I know he gave some of the money to Michael Donovan, O'Donald, O'Sullivan, and Daniel O'Mooney.


"I believe (continued Pigott) these letters to be genuine. The second batch of letters which I gave to the Times - two of Mr. Parnell's and one of Egan's - the two of Parnell's were forged by Casey and myself. I wrote the body of them and Casey signed them. The Egan letter was genuine. It was given to me by Casey, and I have no doubt it was genuine. The last batch which I gave to the Times consisted of three letters. The Davitt and O'Kelly letters were forged in the same way. The Egan letter is genuine...The bribe of a thousand pounds that Mr. Labouchere offered me was offered, as I stated, to state that all the letters were forgeries, and it was not for other documents, as I stated to please him yesterday. What I stated about Eugene Davis in my evidence is correct. Mr. Labouchere promised me that I should not be prosecuted if I made that statement. He pledged his word that the sum of 2,000 pounds would be given to my children by the Parnellites, and he would himself see it expended for their benefit."


In concluding his letter, Pigott wrote: - "I have treated the Times very badly, but would ask them to deal leniently with me. I am branded as a forger before all the world. I have been in difficulties and great distress and want of money for the last twenty years. I have been guilty of many acts which must forever disgrace me."
The President - Then I understand he admits the forging of the letters.
The Attorney-General - Two of the Parnell letters, and the Davitt and O'Kelly letters. The Attorney-General then read Pigott's affidavit declaring his statement to be true.


Sir Charles Russell then rose and cross-examined Mr. Shannon.
You are (he asked) a Dublin man? - Yes.
When did you first know that Mr. Pigott was connected with this case? - Last November.
And did you not make any inquiries as to his character? - No.
Did you know that he was accused of forgeries in the sixties? - I did not.
Did you inquire? - I did not, but I don't believe he was.
Why? - Because people gave him credit in Dublin.
Do you know, Sir, that up to the time he disposed of the Irishman he had for years carried on a system of forged bills? - I never heard of it.
Now, he wrote this letter, dated Sunday, in your presence? - Yes.
And at your suggestion? - Yes, and -
Were you not going to say at your dictation? - No.
Did you not say "dic," and correct yourself? - No, I did not.


Did you notice that in that letter he tells you he has the fear of being prosecuted. Were you struck by that statement? - No.
Were you anxious that he should reappear for cross-examination? - I was most anxious.
Did you take any steps to prevent him bolting? - No.
Did you tell Mr. Soames there was a possibility that he would bolt? - No; I did not. I may say I never thought he could; but no eye has been kept upon him since.
Well, here is a valedictory letter in which he says he is afraid of prosecution. Did it not appear to you that he was afraid of being prosecuted in connection with the Parnellites? - In connection with the forgery.
The forgery! Oh, did he say by whom? - He was afraid, I think, of prosecution by the Government, or whoever took it up in connection with the case. (Laughter.)
Did you ask him whether he would "come up to the scratch" this morning? - No.


Did you think he would turn up? - Yes, I decidedly did; and I will say that, unless he has got some money, I believe, from what I know, that he is either in London now or close at hand. I also saw Pigott on Saturday night, and was with him about an hour. On the Sunday night I had a communication with Gallagher, and was with Pigott three hours.
Did he tell you when he wrote the letter that he had seen Mr. Labouchere? - Yes.


Did he say that he went voluntarily? - Yes.
Did he say that Mr. Labouchere refused to see him except in the presence of somebody else? - No.
Did he tell you that Mr. George Augustus Sala came there? - Yes; but he didn't call for an hour after he had been there.
Did he convey to you that Mr. Labouchere wished him to go away? - No. I wish to say that, from what I know of his money matters, I don't think he could have gone away.
Have you ever given him money? - Never, in my life.
Not a penny? - No.
Who has paid him then? - Mr. Soames.
When was he last paid? - According to his story he got 20 pounds when he first came over. I wish to state with regard to the man Fawcett that it was my suggestion that he should follow him down to the hotel last week, because I was afraid he might possibly be mobbed while going there.
When did you see him yesterday? - At about half-past two.
Did he show you Mr. Lewis's letter? - He did not.
Will you swear that? - Yes.


What did he say he wanted to see you for? - It was all about money. He said he couldn't understand why Mr. Soames didn't send any, and why Mr. Houston had not sent any.
This urgency for money, didn't it strike you as strange? - In this way it did. I wouldn't let either Mr. Soames or Mr. Houston give him any then.
Because you were afraid he would bolt? - No; but I wouldn't give him money while any witness was under examination.
Where did you see him? - At Charlesley's house.
Didn't that seem strange? - Well, he told me he was watched by men who had been put on only that morning. One of them especially, he felt sure, was following him.
The Attorney-General - Had you anything to do with putting these two men on to watch him? - Nothing at all.
Had you anything to do with trying to get Pigott out of the way? - Certainly I had not.
You had a conversation with him on Saturday? - I had, and I told him that he had better speak out, as men wouldn't believe him when the evidence was going on in this way.
At this point the Court adjourned for luncheon.


Outside the Probate Court and in the corridors there was much excitement, as was apparent inside. The corridors were crowded, persons standing on the side seats in their desire to witness the exit of Mr. Parnell and his friends. In the Strand, too, a great crowd had collected, and cheered repeatedly for the Nationalists.
After the reassembling of the Court, the Attorney-General said that every amount given to Pigott was by cheque or mentioned in a letter; and, therefore, if his friend Sir Charles wished to follow the matter up, he could.
Mr. George Lewis was sworn. He said - I subpoenaed Pigott in September, but did not serve his subpoena duces tecum until a short time before he was called as a witness.
Sir Charles Russell was asking Mr. Lewis a question with reference to an interview at Mr. Labouchere's house, when the President interfered, and remarked that this interlocutory evidence which was called must be limited.


Sir Charles Russell said he would call a witness from Glasgow, who could prove a series of forgeries against Pigott.
The President - That we should not allow.
Sir Charles Russell - Is it not to show that he made a confession?
The President - You cannot go into the circumstances of it.
Sir Charles Russell - Then I will not examine the witness at all.


Mr. Lewis wished to explain, in justification of himself, that he had not in the remotest degree anything to do with the interview at Mr. Labouchere's. He (Mr. Lewis) has a gentleman from Glasgow, named Lindsay, to speak in relation to certain forgeries of Pigott. He had not taken any steps to have Pigott watched. He had expected Pigott would have appeared in the box today.


Head-constable Gallagher, of the R.I.C., said he stayed at Anderton's Hotel to prevent Pigott being mobbed. His instructions were to that effect. He did not follow him when he went out. A sergeant on one occasion went out and watched Pigott. That was on Sunday. Pigott told witness that two men were watching him.
Sergeant Fawcett, of the R.I.C., who also attended at Anderton's Hotel, said he had been employed by Mr. Shannon to follow Mr. Pigott to his hotel, and see that he was not interfered with. Pigott told witness he had been followed by three men, who went into the smoking-room. He thought they were detectives.
Did you (asked Sir Charles, in cross-examining) see those three people follow him, or shadow him, as he put it? - I believe I saw one of them.
When did you see Pigott last? - Yesterday afternoon, between three and four o'clock. He came into the hotel and received a long letter. He then sat down and wrote a letter, after which he left the hotel, and I did not see him again.
The Attorney-General then handed him a photograph, but the witness could not recognise it as the portrait of one of the men whom he had seen in the smoking-room of the hotel.


The Attorney-General next addressed the President. "We shall," he said, "consider the course we shall take between this and tomorrow morning."
Sir Charles Russell - And we shall take steps immediately to apply for a warrant both for perjury and forgery against this man.


The Attorney-General - We should like to know whether your Lordships might think it desirable that any of this part of the case should be postponed until we know whether Pigott is accessible or not.
The President - First catch your hare, you know. (Laughter.)
Sir Richard Webster - If your Lordship felt that any particular course should be taken, it will influence us very much in the course we shall take. So far as we are concerned, we shall be able to state what course we propose to take tomorrow morning.
The President - We are not prepared to adopt any course in the absence of facts which are not now ascertainable.
The Court accordingly adjourned at 2:35.


The Press Association states that on Saturday evening Mr. Pigott complained to the head-constable of the Irish Constabulary, who was detailed to accompany him in his movements about London, that he regarded the police protection which he was receiving as most irksome, and highly inconvenient, and that he apprehended no danger whatever. Since then the police protection has been somewhat relaxed, although a watch continued to be kept upon the hotel, in Fleet-street, where Mr. Pigott had been staying. After returning from a place of amusement on Saturday night, Mr. Pigott was heard to state that he was short of money, and that an application for further supplies from the side on which he had been called had been unsuccessful. Yesterday Mr. Pigott moved freely abroad in the streets of London, unaccompanied by any police officer; and he was last seen in Fleet-street about five o'clock last evening.
The police authorities state that they have not the slightest idea of his present whereabouts.


The London Correspondent of the Birmingham Post, in anticipation of Pigott appearing in the box, wrote: - "It is positively stated in quarters favourable to the Nationalist Members that Pigott's revelations, so far from being ended, are only begun. It is added that not only will the story of his life since 1883, which date was reached by the end of Friday's sitting, be minutely examined, but that of his alleged visit to America in search of "compromising documents"; while a motive for his frequent trips to Paris, quite apart from a desire to secure such communications, will be suggested, which will at once startle and shock the public. His monetary transactions with Mr. Houston will likewise form material for further examination, and each of the letters attributed to Mr. Parnell and Egan will be tested in the fashion indicated regarding some of them last week. Should the inquiry be carried by the Nationalist counsel beyond Pigott's disappearance from the box, it will be sought by them to call every politician who has been mentioned either by Mr. Houston or any other witness, as having assisted by advice or financial aid in getting up the Times case; and, as if all this did not open up a sufficiently long vista of interesting matter, certain legal proceedings which will be taken outside the Commission Court have already, I am informed, been definitely resolved upon, and will at the earliest fitting moment be instituted."


The London Correspondent of the Freeman's Journal says: - "Not only have the Irish Party got further evidence of much the same kind as that which has pulverised the Pigott legend, but other evidence has fallen into their hands, the disclosure of which is likely to be fraught with exceedingly grave consequences to Mr. Pigott's friends and patrons. Another report is that the Times intends to apply for permission to treat Pigott as a hostile witness. But then, indeed, we shall have disclosures with a vengeance. Mr. Pigott is not the gentleman to destroy correspondence which he thinks it likely to prove of any value, and there would then be a chance of getting Mr. Pigott's side of the interesting correspondence between Mr. Houston and himself." The same Correspondent says: "If there is one man in England totally unconcerned it is Mr. Pigott. On Saturday evening he visited the Alhambra, where, in a comfortable stall, he enjoyed to the utmost the different items of the programme."

Source: The Echo, Tuesday February 26, 1889, pages 2-3

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