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The Curtis Bennett Inquiry

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  • Mayerling
    replied
    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

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

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  • David Orsam
    replied
    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

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  • Mayerling
    replied
    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

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  • David Orsam
    replied
    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.

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  • David Orsam
    replied
    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.

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  • Mayerling
    replied
    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

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  • David Orsam
    replied
    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.

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  • Robert
    replied
    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.

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  • David Orsam
    replied
    Yes, Edwin was fine - he said he had no idea what his son was up to - but one naturally wonders about Cutbush's career.

    It's interesting that an anonymous letter writer to the Pall Mall Gazette, under the name of 'NOT AN OUTSIDER', wrote on 30 August 1888, in reference to Monro's successor as Assistant Commissioner of the CID, that, 'The only surprise of "those who know" is that Mr. Cutbush has not received the vacant Commissionership; certainly no-one would have filled the post with greater distinction than he. Perhaps however there is better fortune in store for him.' This was published in PMG of 3 Sept.

    By this time, of course, Robert Anderson had been appointed Assistant Commissioner, but it raises the question of whether Cutbush would have been in the running had it not been for the reprimand, received shortly before Monro's resignation, and whether his reprimand did indeed prevent him from this type of advancement.

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  • Robert
    replied
    It doesn't seem to have affected Edwin's career, anyway. He was still in place in 1891 and left close to £5000 when he died in 1915.

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  • David Orsam
    replied
    The Mr. Mills being referred to here was Walter Mills, employed in the Receiver's Office as a temporary copyist, who was the son of the senior clerk, Edwin Mills. As stated in Curtis Bennett's report, young Mills was dismissed from his position during the first week of July.

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  • David Orsam
    replied
    It will recalled that the Star published a quite detailed story about the Curtis Bennett inquiry on 16 July 1888 and that two days later Edward Leigh Pemberton thanked Sir Charles Warren for forwarding a report about it from Maurice Moser to Ruggles Brice. Moser's report dated 16 July, addressed to John Wontner, is below:

    Re. Harry King Evans

    I regret to say that Mr. Mills has thought fit to supply some information to "The Star" respecting the above matter and I enclose cutting from todayís 2nd edition.

    I only returned today from Bordeaux and knew absolutely nothing about this. I have spoken to Mr. Mills this afternoon and his explanation of it is, that he thought as he had been dismissed from Scotland Yard, he had a perfect right to make the circumstances public.

    I merely write this to let you know that I have had nothing to do with this affair.

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  • David Orsam
    replied
    Curtis Bennett's response to Cutbush's memo, delivered to Godfrey Lushington at the Home Office on 27 July 1888, was brutal:

    I have perused the copy of an explanation by Mr. Cutbush in reference to the remarks I deemed it necessary to write in regard to his manner and evidence before me when sitting at the request of Mr. Secretary Matthews at the Home Office, and I am bound to state that the same is entirely inconsistent with the facts.

    Immediately on his entering the room in which I held the inquiry I asked him (as I had requested all the witnesses) to take a chair. His answer was as follows: given in an insolent and defiant manner:

    "Before I sit down or answer any question I wish to be informed what my position is here."

    I informed him that this inquiry was held by me at the request of the Home Secretary, he then sat down but from first to last his evidence was given in a most unbecoming manner and after one or two formal questions by me, he, in answer to a question by me, and not from the Receiver of the Police or Mr. Evans, said he declined to answer the question Ė see notes of his evidence taken at the time Ė after this his principal answer was "I do not remember", which failed to impress me as being the fact, and he convinced me he was in no way friendly towards Mr. Evans.

    At the conclusion of his examination on leaving the room he slammed the door with such force as to shake the whole room and had I been sitting in another place I should most certainly have then and there taken notice of the matter.

    I consider it right to now outline these facts and would ask you to kindly place them before the Home Secretary.

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  • David Orsam
    replied
    As you may recall from earlier in this thread, the Home Office wrote to Sir Charles Warren on 14 July 1888 asking him to obtain from Superintendent Cutbush any observations he thought fit to offer about the criticisms made of him in Curtis Bennett's report. Cutbush provided his observations to Sir Charles in a memo dated 21 July 1888, and Sir Charles in turn forwarded the memo to the Home Office two days later. Here is Cutbush's defence of his behaviour at the inquiry as set out in his memo of 21 July:

    With reference to the remarks made by Mr. Curtis Bennett in his report dated 10th July 1888, on the case of Mr. H. K. Evans, I beg to state that I am quite unconscious of doing or saying anything that could be construed into disrespect, or to any want of respect to Mr. Bennett. I was examined by Mr. Bennett, Mr. Pennefather and Mr. Evans, and it is probable that when the latter insinuated in his opening question that I had been instructed by the Commissioner as to what evidence I should give, that I replied somewhat sharply; and possibly I did so to other questions put to him as he seemed to me to assume that I was there as a hostile witness. I have made this explanation as it appears to me that the incidents in connection with my examination by Mr. Evans may have caused Mr. Bennett to form the opinion expressed in his note. I can only express my very deep regret that anything I should have said, when questioned by Mr. Evans, should have caused Mr. Bennett to think I was guilty of want of respect to him, and to assure him that I am quite innocent of any such intention. With reference to the candour of my statement, the remark is probably based on a question, as to who, in the Receiverís Department, I had ever heard speak of Mr. Evans. I requested permission to decline answering this question; but on the Receiver pressing Mr Bennett to force it, I replied. It appeared to me to be an attempt on the part of Mr. Evans to endeavour to implicate any person he possibly could, who had at any time gossiped about him, or his business. Moreover, I was from the first treated as though I attended there as an enemy of Mr. Evans, and I submit that reference to my examination will show that this is so. I felt this, and I certainly answered with dire (sic) regard to caution; but to the best of my recollection I answered every question explicitly.

    The questions put to me inferred that I had been in communication with ex Inspector Moser on the subject of Mr. Evansí business; and that he was in the habit of frequenting my office. There was absolutely no foundation for any such assumption.

    The assumptions relative to ex P.S. Butcher were equally without foundation, as I had never seen or communicated with him subsequent to the receipt of his letter complaining of Mr. Evans; and which I had never replied to, not having received any instructions after submitting it to the Commissioner.

    I can only reiterate what I have before stated, that I regret most sincerely, that Mr. Bennett should from some apparent defect in my manner or from my replies have felt it necessary to make the observations he has. I by no means intended to be disrespectful, though I certainly felt hurt at the insinuations made by Mr. Evans, and I again desire to assure Mr. Bennett that I was not intentionally guilty of any want of respect to him.

    I have been upwards of twenty years in the Police Force, and have never yet been censured. On the contrary I have been commended by Magistrates, the Secretary of State, the Commissioner, and the public with whom I have had to deal.

    CH Cutbush
    Supt
    21st July 1888

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