"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.
A meeting was held at Pagani’s on 15th November 1923 to discuss funding Dr. Sutherland’s (and Harding & More’s) appeal to the House of Lords. The meeting reveals that raising money to support the defendants in the Stopes v. Sutherland libel trial was consistently a problem throughout the trial. What folows is Mr. G.L. Smith’s report of the meeting.
Stopes v. Sutherland: meeting to raise funds for defendants’ expenses, Pagani’s Restaurant, November 15th, 1923. (30-35 persons present).
Several persons present, notably for Lord Fitzalan and Mr Anderton, representing the Catholic Union, expressed anxiety to know the exact position of the case, and the extent of the liabilities it was proposed to undertake. Would there be liability for “maintenance”?
Mr. Oddie, speaking on behalf of Sir Charles Russell, said there could be no liability for maintenance, according to the best legal opinion, as it was lawful for co-religionists to support one another; and even if there were, the liability would not exceed £4000.
As to the likely result, he thought there was a “fair chance” of success. The House of Lords would probably either reverse the decision of the Court of Appeal or order a new trial. If this latter were the cause, either party could move for a new trial: failing this they could come to an agreement as to costs.
Lord Fitzalan and Mr. Anderton stated that they had no authority to undertake any financial or other liabilities on behalf of the Catholic Union. The representative of the St Vincent de Paul Superior Council also stated that his Council had decided it was outside their scope to contribute, as a society to the expenses of the action.
Some discussion followed as to the best methods to be following in making the appeal (the Bishop’s letter having been read).
Mgr. O’Kelly of Salford strongly urged that an appeal to the parishes should be made only in the last resort. He instanced the large number of collections already ordered in the parish churches. He moved a resolution to this effect, and suggested that the Bishops be asked to call together the various associations in their dioceses to form committees for the appeal. Mgr. Brown of Southwark and Mgr. O’Grady of Brentwood thought it would be necessary to approach the parish priests, and better to do so in the first instance.
Mgr. O’Kelly’s resolution (seconded by Mr Barns of the Salford Federation) was put to the meeting and rejected, no one voting for in but the proposer and seconder.
Finally Mr Eyre asked that he should be authorised by the committee to draw up, in consultation with Mgr. Brown and others whom he might wish to ask, the necessary appeals. This was agreed to, and the meeting broke up.
Subsequently, Eyre established the Sutherland-Waring Appeal Fund and published The Moral Problem of To-Day. In May 1924, appeals for funds were published in The Tablet and The Universe. The editorial in the latter said:
“The Nation is being swept by a powerful and insidious campaign to encourage the artificial limitation of the family. It was a campaign designed to reach the masses, and it was reaching them. So successful was it that ‘birth control’ became a normal topic of conversation. From a national point of view it was a dangerous campaign. For the nation needs children. A nation with empty cradles is a nation with a black tomorrow…
“An action for libel, taken out by Dr Marie Stopes, Ph.D, went in favour of the defendants… the Court of Appeal reversed the decision and left the Catholic champions responsible for heavy legal costs. The case must not be allowed to end there…”Hall, R. (1977). Passionate Crusader: The Life of Marie Stopes. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Pages 250-1.
Stopes took legal action for contempt of court against The Tablet and The Universe on the grounds that the matter was sub judice. The publications were bound to not mention the matter again until the appeal had been heard in the House of Lords.
Photo credit: City of Westminster Archives Centre via Wikipedia Commons (Pagani’s Restaurant of Great Portland Street.jpg – Wikimedia Commons)