£100 Fine for Disloyal Talk
William Hedley Hawkins, 34, of Bassett-road, Ladbroke-grove, a correspondence clerk employed at the Smithfield goods depot of the Great Western Railway, who surrendered to his bail at Guildhall yesterday, was fined £100 with the alternative of three months’ imprisonment for having made false statements calculated to prejudice recruiting. The case has been reported in The Times.
The defendant, giving evidence on his own behalf, denied having made many of the statements attributed to him. Last November, he said, he applied for and obtained permission to attest, but domestic matters prevented him from doing so. He had waited till the Government made some provision for married men. His nickname in the office was ‘Von Hawkins’. He certainly once made the absurd remark, ‘We shall one day see the Germans marching up the Mile End-road,’ and he also once said ‘I suppose I shall have to head a deputation if the Germans come over here.’ But that was mere chaff in reply to some bantering remarks. He urged that what he had said humorously had been taken seriously. Men who were employed at the Smithfield goods depot said they had attested on the defendant’s advice. [Attesting involved enlisting and being allowed to return to civilian life until called for.]
Mr Frampton, for the defendant, said that notice of appeal would be given in due course.
Alleged to be Pro-German
The Statement of a City Clerk
At the Guildhall Quarter Sessions today William Hedley Hawkins, a clerk in a city office of the Great Western Railway, appealed against a conviction for making false statements likely to prejudice the recruitment, discipline and training of HM Forces when he was fined £100 or three months’ imprisonment. Mr Moore for the respondent said that appellant made statements to fellow employees that ‘God made Germany the first country in the world, and put the Danube there to keep out the barbarians’, that the King and Queen were secretly friends of Germany, and that the Russians were the scum of the earth; that the English have ‘brought this war on themselves’, that he did not think the working classes should be made to pay for the war, and that he had in circulation circulars to repudiate the war loan. He also said that ‘all soldiers are licensed murderers of the English Government’, and that he would not willingly have them in his house.
A young lady in the office had three brothers in the Army, and when appellant heard that they had taken part in a bayonet charge, he said that they ‘ought to have a special place in hell.’
He further remarked ‘Let people who are mugs enough go out and be shot’, and said there was no freedom in this country. The freedom of a fellow-employee, he said, was to work from nine in the morning until 5.30 at night. Of the Wittenberg camp incidents [during a 1914-15 typhus epidemic at a prisoner-of-war camp German guards and medical staff had abandoned their prisoners, who had previously been abused and allegedly tortured] he said that the British prisoners were not treated half so badly as the Germans in the English camp. He himself would not be called up; they would not want him, as he should not fight.
The hearing was continued at the City Quarter Sessions today of an appeal by William Hedley Hawkins, a GWR clerk, against a conviction for making statements likely to prejudice recruiting and the discipline and training of HM Forces, and a fine of £100 or three months’ imprisonment. Charles Parnell, a staff clerk, said that in December last he heard the appellant say that he would rather fight for the Germans than the English, and when the Germans came he would go and meet them with a red flag. Another clerk said that the appellant had remarked that ‘the Germans were justified in sinking the Lusitania because it carried guns and ammunition.’ Detective Inspector Lane of the railway police told the court that when questioned the appellant said, ‘It is all rot. The statements are garbled by girls who did not understand’.
Inspector Garrett of the City Police said that when charged prisoner said, ‘This is a trumped up charge engineered by the company. It has arisen through a lot of chipping that is going on’. Mr E Wild KC submitted that the statements were not such as would prejudice recruiting. Mr Wild referred to the speech of the Attorney General before the Bill was passed.
The Chairman: ‘We are not concerned with the Act itself.’
Mr Wild said that the appellant was as anxious as anybody that this country should win the war. Defendant came from a Devonshire family, and there was a tradition that he was descended from Sir John Hawkins, the famous Admiral. The appellant had done the work of a recruiting sergeant, and was himself an attested man. He had been called ‘von Hawkins’ because for six years before the war he had worn his moustache in the German fashion and he looked like a German.
The Debating Society Attitude
The appellant said there was a great deal of badinage in the office, and he took ‘the debating society attitude’, to keep the argument going. When he was called ‘Daddy’ and ‘von Hawkins’ he took it as a joke, and he expected that his remarks would be take in the same spirit. Many of the remarks had been torn away from the context. His remarks about the Kaiser being a gentleman and a lover of peace were quotations from pre-war newspapers to show how opinions had changed in this country.
The Court upheld the conviction and sentence. They allowed 14 days for payment of the fine, but refused to state a case.