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The Curtis Bennett Inquiry

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  • In which case, if it was known that Cutbush wanted the job, his reprimand may have been viewed as a double failure in self-discipline.

    I suspect that the letter writer wasn't very enamoured of Cutbush - e.g. the reference to Cutbush's taking the opposite course to 'being 'umble' and the contrast of his 'daring ambition' with the shrewdness and tact of the others. I've a feeling 'pocket' is an in-joke but the point escapes me.

    The writer takes a pot shot at the Receiver too.

    Comment


    • Yes, it's quite possible that much of that letter, if not all of it, needs to be read as meaning the direct opposite of what it says.

      Comment


      • As I read the two versions of the Cutbush/Curtis-Bennett meeting I get the distinct impression both men are concealing something that happened. Cutbush's so-called curt remarks at the start regarding why he was called at all don't strike me as being out-of-line. He is a senior Yard figure with 20 years background and good reputation, and he would be aware of the fact that the matter Curtis-Bennett is studying is to reveal some form of corruption in the acquisition of materiel needed by the Yard. It's been a decade since the Benson Scandal, and that ended with three top Inspectors sent to prison. So yes, he does have some right to wonder if he is being questioned for what he knows or because he is under suspicion. As for Curtis-Bennett's comments, why would he have reacted differently about the slamming of the door (or, should I say, the apparent slamming of the door) had he been in another seat than the one he sat in. Did something fall down that had he been in the different seat would have caused some minor injury? Well, if such was the case, Curtis-Bennett could still have been indignant about it. Instead, he takes the incident to make it look like he is bending over backward to be understanding and civil.

        As for "Not an Outsider" I keep wondering if the author might have been the editor of the PMG, Mr. Stead. Stead's relationship with Warren was not close before the Whitechapel murder, and one wonders what his relationship with Charles Cutbush was (if any). In short, did he wish to see Cutbush in as Yard Commissioner?

        Jeff

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Mayerling View Post
          As for Curtis-Bennett's comments, why would he have reacted differently about the slamming of the door (or, should I say, the apparent slamming of the door) had he been in another seat than the one he sat in. Did something fall down that had he been in the different seat would have caused some minor injury? Well, if such was the case, Curtis-Bennett could still have been indignant about it. Instead, he takes the incident to make it look like he is bending over backward to be understanding and civil.
          What he meant was, had he been sitting as a magistrate in a police court and Cutbush had slammed the door like that he would have taken some action against him.

          Comment


          • One final document from the file which may be of interest. This is the response to Curtis Bennett's report of Godfrey Lushington, the Permanent Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, set out in a memo to Henry Matthews, the Home Secretary, dated 12 July 1888:

            The charges contained in Mr. Wontnerís letter against Mr. Evans have all broken down with the exception of the transaction with Mr. Cook on which I have observed in my Minute on Mr. Evansí case for pension.

            The first question then is Ė how was it that these charges came to be made? On what foundation did they rest?

            They rest it may confidently be assumed, though it was not actually proved, upon the statements of Mr. Mills* a copyist in the Receiverís Office, a youth 20 years old in money difficulties, [illegible], and with a grudge against Mr. Evans who had had occasion to complain of his work. Mr. Mills made these statements to Mr. Moser, Mr. Moser reported them to Mr. Wontner, Mr. Wontner to the Commissioner, and the Commissioner to the Secretary of State. Moser it should be said is a private detective, of dubious personal character, and there is the ugly feature that immediately after Moser had sent in his report founded on Millsí statements (for so I make out the dates) he became surety for Mills for a small loan and also gave him theatre tickets.

            The whole story is an illustration of what comes of having recourse to inquiries by secret agents.

            One or two matters, however, are not cleared up. The first enquiry directed by the Commissioner, which related to communications to newspapers and was unconnected with Evans was by order discontinued in Dec 1887: the first report on Evans was not delivered until April 1888. How was it that during the interval the inquiry was resumed or rather started afresh? How was it that it now became directed at Mr. Evans and his money transactions, matters falling outside the jurisdiction of the Commissioner? Nobody appears to have authorized such an inquiry and Mr. Moser did not explain.

            These matters are left wholly in the dark but attention should be called to the following facts which transpired in the course of the inquiry.

            Mr. Evans it would appear had given offence to the Executive Department some time back by his criticisms on the returns from that Department relating to Estimates, especially to Inspector Harris who had filled the post now filled by Superintendent Cutbush. Mr. Cutbush is Superintendent of the Executive Branch, and amongst other duties he manages the Newspaper Department. Cutbush states that he knows of no-one who has any feeling against Mr. Evans. He denies that he himself gave information to Moser; he does not know anyone likely to have given information to Moser about Evans; in particular he states that young Mills had not mentioned to him (Mr. Cutbush) Mr. Evansí name. On the other hand it was to Superintendent Cutbush to whom Mr. Butcher addressed his letter of complaint about Evansí default in payment, a letter which it is to be observed was dated May 1888, that is, after Butcher knew of the Bankruptcy proceedings, and which therefore could have had no object but to damage Mr. Evans. Again it was Superintendent Cutbush that recently sent Inspector Davis over to the Receiverís Office ďto see if that fellow Evans had gone.Ē A more important circumstance is that about a month or six weeks ago he lent young Mills £3.10s and apparently gave him one or more theatre tickets. This was about the same time that Moser became security for Mills and also gave him theatre tickets. Mr. Cutbush, so Mr. Bennett reports, did not give his evidence with candour or in a respectful manner.

            I cannot leave this part of the inquiry without expressing my emphatic opinion that the Commissioner ought to have sent to the Receiver a copy of Mr. Wontnerís report as soon as it came into his hands. This obligation would have been imperative, even if that information had come to him in a purely casual manner. Much more so was it, considering that the Report was the outcome of a secret inquiry which the Commissioner had himself authorized for another purpose. Much more so still was it, considering that at the time the general relations between the Commissioner and the Receiver were so strained.

            Nothing approaching to corruption was established against the Receiverís Office. One or two instances were given of bribes or commissions having been offered but refused. Mr. King, the assistant surveyor, says p.91 that Messrs Merritt & Ashby offered him £20 if he would assist them (by giving them the list of prices under the existing contract): Mr. Holloway once said if I could get his account through, he would pay me a commission. Mr. Higgins some years ago offered me 10 shillings.

            Mr. Butler, the surveyor, says p.96 I have been offered commission (or commissions) by persons who have sold us land.

            But there was evidence of the practice of persons in the Receiverís Office and also it would appear of some in the Commissionerís Office [who] have received small Christmas presents and like gratuities or have dealt with police contractors for their private purposes receiving the benefit, whether to their knowledge or not, of a higher discount, [which] should be summarily put an end to.

            The Receiver has already issued an order on the subject.

            Mr. Cooke is proved to have lent £30 to Mr. Evans and also £10 to Mr. Mills, and he was by no means candid about the last transaction. It is not necessary to go to the length of disqualifying him in future for any police contract but he ought to be severely censured.

            It now remains to settle what should be done on this paper.

            Write to Mr. Bennett

            Thank him for his Report and the careful inquiry on which it was based. [Mr. Bennett was specially skilful in eliciting important admissions from Mr. Mills.]

            Send to the Commissioner a copy of the Report. Suggest that he should issue a Police Order prohibiting all members of the Police Force from receiving any gratuity or present from any person whom they have reason to believe to be a contractor to the police or from having any pecuniary or business dealings with such persons.

            Call his attention to the remarks of Mr. Bennett with respect to the conduct of Superintendent Cutbush. Say that the Secretary of State would wish from the Commissioner to obtain from Superintendent Cutbush and forward to the Home Office any observations that he thinks fit to offer. [Another letter will have to be written to the Commissioner about a passage in his evidence: this I have dealt with in a separate paper.]

            Send to the Receiver a copy of the Report. Express the satisfaction of the Secretary of State at the general tenor of the Report with respect to the contracts in the Receiverís office.

            The practice of officials in the Receiverís office dealing for private purposes with police contractors or receiving loans, Christmas presents or gratuities from them is one which cannot be permitted, and the Secretary of State relies on the Receiver strictly to enforce the rule which he has issued on the subject.

            Call the attention of the Receiver to Mr. Cookís evidence page 60. ďI lent him (young Mills) £10 about last August; his accounts were incorrect he told meĒ and ask the Receiver for a full explanation of what was meant by the accounts being incorrect.

            [Tell the Receiver, and minute, a severe censure to Mr. Cook and to inform him that if any irregularity on his part either in lending money or in giving presents or supplying goods to persons in the office occur he will be held disqualified from taking or in future be permitted to take any police contract]

            Above passage deleted and amended by the Home Secretary to:


            Tell the Receiver that the conduct of Mr. Cook in lending money with little or no expectation of repayment to clerks in the Receiverís Office appears to the Secretary of State to disqualify Mr. Cook from taking any police contract.

            Add that a separate letter shall be written with respect to Mr. Evans.

            A copy of the Report should also be sent to Mr. W.H. Smith, as the Commissioner states in his evidence that he spoke to Mr. Smith as to Mr. Evansí financial position.

            GL
            12 July 1888

            *Mr. Mills is the Chief Clerk in the Receiverís Office. He originally asked the Receiver for a nomination to a clerkship in the Receiverís office. This the Receiver refused but for no other reason than that he thought it inadvisable that two near relatives should be in the same office. Mr. Mills then obtained a nomination from the Commissioner for his office; but he failed in his examination and then in order to assist him to qualify the Receiver took him into his office as a copyist from week to week.




            N.B. If a letter was written to the Commissioner about a passage in his evidence I haven't seen it.

            Comment


            • The conclusion confused me for a moment David, but then I remembered something.

              Why was a copy sent to "W. H. Smith"?

              "W. H. Smith", I presume, is William Henry Smith, the owner of the chain of book stalls/newspaper stands that became the center of a publishing firm. He was also a Tory politician, best recalled now as the basis (when Disraeli made him First Lord of the Admiralty in the 1870s) for William S. Gilbert's "Sir Joseph Porter" in the libretto of "HMS Pinafore". A stolid and steady and honest man, he was known as "Old Probity" in the House of Commons.

              When Salisbury became Prime Minister in 1885, he had a problem. He was a Marquis, and sat in the House of Lords, but the basis of real political power and debate in English democracy was the House of Commons. He could have done what Lord Home did in the 1960s, resigned his title, and taken a seat in Commons in a special election, but it wasn't considered a realistic type of move in the 1880s. So Salisbury chose to have some leading Tory in the House for his Commons leader while he was Prime Minister. In his second ministry (that is by 1888), Salisbury was using W.H. Smith for this role. The report had to be sent to the Commons leader when it was ready, and Smith (after he read it) presumably sent it on to (or discussed it with) Salisbury.
              Although, one would think Lord Salisbury would have also heard of it from Matthews.

              Jeff

              Comment


              • Jeff, the reason the report was sent to W.H. Smith was because Sir Charles Warren, in his evidence to Curtis Bennett, stated, "I have spoken to the Secretary of State and the First Lord of the Treasury as to Mr Evans' financial position." The First Lord of the Treasury was W.H. Smith.

                There is a letter on the file, on 10 Downing Street notepaper, from a Mr. Pattisson, who I believe to have been W.H. Smith's private secretary, to John Satterfield Saunders, who was Henry Matthew's private secretary, dated 16 July 1888, which says:

                Dear Saunders,

                Mr Smith has read the report relating to Mr Evans of the Metropolitan Police Office and now returns it. He will be obliged if you will kindly thank Mr Matthews for sending it to him.

                Yours sincerely,

                J.L. Pattisson

                Comment


                • You're right, David. According to his obit, Jacob Luard Pattis(s)on was Smith's private secretary 1880 - 1891.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                    Jeff, the reason the report was sent to W.H. Smith was because Sir Charles Warren, in his evidence to Curtis Bennett, stated, "I have spoken to the Secretary of State and the First Lord of the Treasury as to Mr Evans' financial position." The First Lord of the Treasury was W.H. Smith.

                    There is a letter on the file, on 10 Downing Street notepaper, from a Mr. Pattisson, who I believe to have been W.H. Smith's private secretary, to John Satterfield Saunders, who was Henry Matthew's private secretary, dated 16 July 1888, which says:

                    Dear Saunders,

                    Mr Smith has read the report relating to Mr Evans of the Metropolitan Police Office and now returns it. He will be obliged if you will kindly thank Mr Matthews for sending it to him.

                    Yours sincerely,

                    J.L. Pattisson
                    Thanks David, I should have said First Lord of the Treasury (the post usually assumed by Prime Ministers who sat in the House of Commons) rather than Party Leader, but basically Smith is sitting in that position for Salisbury in the Upper House.

                    Jeff

                    Comment

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