File No. 342.112Sm6/26.
The British Ambassador to the Secretary of State.
The British Ambassador presents his compliments to the Secretary of State, and with reference to Mr. Lansing’s memorandum of the 11th June last, on the subject of the case brought against the persons responsible for the shooting of the American citizens Walter Smith and Charles Dorsch in December last, has the honour to state that the observations contained in that memorandum with regard to the failure of the grand jury to indict these persons were duly brought to the attention of the competent authorities in Canada.
As a result of a careful examination of the case, these authorities have reached the conclusion that there was nothing in the charge to the grand jury, if taken as a whole, of a nature to influence the [Page 423] grand jury to find no bill, and they do not consider that the action of the jury in failing to indict the men who did the shooting can properly be attributed to the passage in the charge which is quoted in the memorandum from the Secretary of State. The considerations which led the jury to find no bill can of course, in view of the grand jurors’ oath to observe and keep secret the Kings’ counsel, his fellows’ and his own, not be the subject of accurate information, independently of such inferences as may be drawn from the words of the charge, and it is thought that the learned judge did not refer to the payment of an indemnity in such terms as could be interpreted by the jury as an instruction that the payment could possibly justify or atone for any offence against the criminal law which had previously been committed by the persons whose presentment was under consideration.
The Canadian authorities are not disposed to deny the duty imposed on the local government, both for the proper administration of the criminal law and by good international practice, to have resort to the ordinary proceedings to put upon their trial the persons who were responsible for the shooting; but on the other hand, in the present case, where there can be no question of malice, it would not appear to be incumbent on such Government to have recourse to extraordinary proceedings.
The Government of Canada have in these circumstances decided that the documents in this case, including the memorandum from the Secretary of State under reply, should be referred to the authorities of the Province of Ontario, who are responsible for the administration of criminal justice in the province, in order that they may consider the advisability of renewing proceedings in the matter by a fresh presentation to a grand jury.
Washington , September 9, 1915.