Worst Village – 4. Judge’s Summing Up and Verdict

May 1900

Mexborough and Swinton Times May 11th 1900

Judges Summing Up

Mr Justice Grantham summed up to the jury, remarking that he was somewhat surprised at the course taken by the defendant. They admitted liability, and paid 10 Guineas into court as sufficient damages.

So small a sum would seem to indicate that in their view the libel was not of a serious character. In order to support that view he would have thought it would be desirable to say as little as possible. About 5 min would be enough to said that, and they might have got the jury to take that view. They had not thought fit state that for stop there is the services of a mini counsel, and therefore it could all be assumed that they wish to have the case conducted on the lines that have been adopted – that the whole matters in dispute between Mr Buckingham Pope and themselves should be talked about.

Mr Robson last exhortations to them was that Mr Pope got money from them in the last action, and now they got him to admit that the produced the circular which he then got damages, therefore, the defendants had already given him more damages than he ought really to have. What did the jury think of that? It seemed clear that where counsel, had been instructed to take the course which have been adopted by the defence counsel in attacking Mr Pope, the jury could have no doubt that their motive was a malicious one in coupling his name with this libellous matter which they extracted from the “Christian Budget.” That eminent Christian publication which was supposed to bring peace and goodwill towards mankind, he supposed, sought to increase circulation, as other papers had done, by publishing one of the foulest libels that it was possible to conceive, written by a special Commissioner, sent down for the purpose of ascertaining truthfully the conditions of life in the village – as abominable liable as could be written on which they had since admitted was without the slightest justification, for which they had apologised.

Some of them who had travelled in the North knew that. Colliery villages were not always as they should like them to be, but this “Christian Budget.” had gone to the length of describing Denaby village of the place where human life was sordid, where immorality and intemperance were rife, and where wives were sold like cattle. That was a description of it in what was called a Christian faith, for which they have had ample apologies.

That part of the article he had just quoted was left out in what was published by the defendant, and also by the “Westminster Gazette” but that was its character all through. Anything that was startling effects of and for that reason, no doubt, the “Westminster Gazette” made excerpts from this article. But these two papers mentioned were individual. Defendants, however, seized upon it as another opportunity of “stab at Mr Buckingham Pope, with whom they had been in trouble before. If ever there was an incident in which the suggestion of a plaintiff would justify, that this was a malicious libel on defendant far, inserted intentionally for the purpose of injury. Mr Buckingham Pope his Lordship would say it was this. Shey marked him out as the person responsible for the diabolical condition of things represented to exist in the Yorkshire village.

They went on to gain the most pungent details from the article. What was their apology? They left out Mr Buckingham Pope´s name from it entirely referring merely to the chairman of Denaby Main, joining in their apology to those of the other newpapers. They libelled him by name, but would not apologise to him by name. The question become one merely of damages, and the jury would say whether they thought 10 Guineas paid into court sufficient.

After about 5 min deliberation, the jury found a verdict for the plaintive, damages £100. Mr Justice Grantham entered judgement accordingly.