File No. 341.115At6/3

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Page)


3194. Representatives Atlantic Export Company, shippers of cargo on steamer Joseph W. Fordney , inform Department they have been advised by English lawyers that new order in council, March 30 last, regarding conditional contraband is construed by British authorities as retroactive and will be applied to cargo of this vessel and in other American cases set for early trial. These representatives state that proceedings of this character would amount to denial justice in the case of this cargo. Department agrees with views of shippers as to unwarranted character these proceedings. Department has made known to British Government through you its views that if proper examination warranting the seizure of goods in question was not disclosed by proper examination of vessel at the time its seizure, there could be no lawful seizure of the cargo and, therefore, no subsequent lawful prize court proceedings, and that seizure of a vessel and cargo can not be justified on the strength of evidence of illegal destination cargo discovered, as appears according to the British Government’s statement to have been the case with reference to steamer Joseph W. Fordney , approximately one-half year after seizure took place. No reply justifying such a course has been made by British Government.

Communicate with Foreign Office in sense foregoing and say that this Government considers it is entitled to receive statement from British Government regarding their views as to how such evidence can warrant a seizure of this kind and prize court proceedings in relation thereto.