Huddersfield Daily Examiner (07/Apr/1914) - Harbouring the Police: Policeman's Visit to a Public House

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.




The story of a West Riding police-constable's visit to a moorland public house and his subsequent attack upon a farmer was related at the Huddersfield County Police Court today, when Elliott Walker, innkeeper, Will's o' Nat's, Cop, Meltham, was summoned for harbouring a police-constable on licensed premises.

Mr. James Sykes (Messrs. Armitage, Sykes, and Hinchcliffe) appeared for the defendant and pleaded not guilty.

Superintendent Hustler, addressing the bench, said it was rather painful case to himself because it affected one of his own men. It occurred some time ago, on November 20th, 1913, and it might be asked why the proceedings had not been taken earlier. There was more than one reason. The constable had been ill and off duty since December 4th last. He was suffering greatly from rheumatism, and had had to come part of the way that morning in a conveyance. On Thursday, November 20th, 1913, about 3:30 p.m., the constable went to the public-house and did not leave until 7 p.m. During that time he was supplied with intoxicating liquor, and, of course, was not fit for duty when be left.


He had private testimony that unfortunate events followed, and a man named Eastwood was seriously assaulted by the constable. The man Eastwood never complained to the police that he had been assaulted by the constable, and throughout had evinced a desire not to be associated with the case in any way, as the constable was advanced in service and was likely to be pensionable in a short time. One great feature of that court was that when temporary licenses were granted the applicants were told to make themselves acquainted with the licensing laws. It was highly desirable that there should be no collusion between constables and landlords. The constable was under a cloud at present, and the Chief Constable would deal with him at an opportune time, probably when he resumed duty.


Geo. Thomas Richardson said he was a constable in the West Riding Constabulary and was stationed at Holt Head, Meltham. He was at the public-house from 3:30 p.m. until 7 p.m., and was supplied with drink.

Superintendent Hustler: Was the landlord present? — As far as I know.

But you are here to give evidence? — To the best of my memory he was present.

You were on duty in uniform at the time? — Yes.

Did you see the landlord that day? — Yes, I think so.

By Mr. Sykes: He was returning from the Slaithwaite Police Station, and called at the house to make inquiries about a man who had broken into the Slaithwaite Co-operative Stores. He went into the kitchen, and later, at his request, the landlady called in a man named Joe Eastwood, who was about to leave the house. He did not remember bargaining with Eastwood for some potatoes. They left the house together.

Joe Eastwood, farmer, Queen Mary's Farm, Spring Head, Meltham, said that on the afternoon in question he was busy with some cattle at Blackmoorfoot, and called at the public-house. He was leaving at 3:40 p.m., when Richardson called him back into the kitchen. They left together about 7 p.m. On the way home Richardson seriously assaulted him.

Superintendent Hustler: Had you been drinking very heavily? — I had been drinking all the time, but I was all right, and could go home right enough.

You were not drunk? — No.

By Mr. Sykes: Whilst they were in the kitchen Richardson was bargaining with him to buy some potatoes. Witness paid for some of the drinks.


Mr. Sykes paid it seemed to him that in matters of this sort, where the circumstances were such as in this case, the main onus ought to fall upon the constable. License holders were very largely in the hands of the police, who were obliged to act more or less in accordance with their instructions. He suggested that the case would be met by a small penalty, especially as the landlord was absent at the time.

The defendant said he had kept the New Inn for eleven years, and there had not been a previous complaint against him.[1] The two men had not been in the house for ten minutes when witness returned home. He had been away, but he did not know where to. The two men in the house had some conversation about some potatoes and turnips.

Mrs. Walker, wife of the defendant, stated that the constable entered the house shortly before five o'clock. He walked straight into the kitchen, and inquired for a man. The defendant was not at home, but Eastwood was in the house, and the constable stayed talking with him.

Cross-examined, Witness said she did not think the constable and Eastwood were in the house more than an hour and a half. When her husband left her in the house alone he told her to be careful. She did not know she was doing wrong by having the constable in the house.

A fine of £2 and coats, amounting to £1 0s. 6d., was imposed.

Notes and References

  1. Elliott Walker took over the licence on 27 October 1903.