"A born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better." G.K. Chesterton.
There was one witness on the fifth day: Sir Maurice Abbott Anderson, appearing for the defence. The rest of the day belonged to barristers appearing for the parties: they agreed on the questions to be put to the jury and then Charles, Sullivan and Hastings made their closing speeches. Finally, Lord Chief Justice Hewart delivered his summing up.
Dr Halliday Sutherland described the scene in a later memoir:
“The jury retired at four o’clock, and Lord Hewart went into his room at the back of the bench. In the court there was a buzz of conversation. Half an hour later the bell from the jury room rang. They had come to a verdict! They were only sending a written question to the judge. The slip of paper was taken to the judge, and the messenger returned with the answer and pushed it under the door of the jury’s room. Soon it began to get dark, and people were leaving the court. The electric light was switched on, and the court was only half-full. “Again the jury’s bell rang. Another question was sent to the judge. At six o’clock the only people in court were the litigants, their friends, the junior solicitors, and the most junior barristers. A cheerless scene. At seven o’clock it was said that Lord Hewart had given up a public engagement and was prepared to stay in his room if necessary, until midnight. We sent out for sandwiches, but they were not very good. At five minutes past eight the bell rang, the jury returned and took their places. The Lord Chief Justice returned to the Bench and read aloud the answers to the four questions left to the jury.”Exterminating Poverty: The true story of the eugenic plan to get rid of the poor, and the Scottish doctor who fought against it (2020) Mark H. Sutherland (in conjunction with Neil Sutherland) pages 253-4.
Lord Chief Justice Hewart addressed the jury: “Gentlemen of the jury, are you all agreed?”
The foreman of the jury, Mr Maurice Spencer, replied: “We are.”
A paper on which the jury’s decisions were written was passed to the Lord Chief Justice Hewart, who read them aloud:
“(1) Were the words complained of defamatory of the plaintiff? — Yes.”
“(2) Were they true in substance and in fact? — Yes.”
“(3) Were they fair comment?…”Exterminating Poverty: The true story of the eugenic plan to get rid of the poor, and the Scottish doctor who fought against it (2020) Mark H. Sutherland (in conjunction with Neil Sutherland) page 254.
At this point, the Lord Chief Justice paused and returned the paper to Mr Spencer. “Would you look at that, Mr Foreman?” he asked, “Two words have been written: which is the final one?” Spencer marked the paper, handed it back, and the Lord Chief Justice continued:
“(3) Were they fair comment? — No.
“(4) Damages, if any? — £100.”Exterminating Poverty: The true story of the eugenic plan to get rid of the poor, and the Scottish doctor who fought against it (2020) Mark H. Sutherland (in conjunction with Neil Sutherland) page 254.
Sir Hugh Fraser, barrister for the plaintiff, stood up and said: “My Lord, in that I ask for Judgement.”
“Well, I think it must be argued, Sir Hugh Fraser,” replied the Lord Chief Justice explaining “the jury have found that the plea of Justification is right.”
At this, Mr Harold Murphy and Mr Theobald Mathew – for Sutherland and Harding & More – asked for judgement.
“Very well,” said the Lord Chief Justice, “I will not give judgement now. The argument on these findings will take place tomorrow morning.”
The participants would have to wait until the next day to find out what the result would be.
Watch the summary of the dispute below (under 3 mins):
Or read the full story by clicking here.