Royal Commission report day 9 page 5

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The Royal Commission evidence for 6/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 9)

Francis Augustus Hare giving evidence

1607 He went from Melbourne in the same train with you?— Yes, and was on the scene the whole day. There were four reporters, and this was one of them.

1608 Mr. Nicolson . —Who insinuated that Mr. Hare was in league with the reporters?

The Witness . —Mr. O'Connor said, after the report came out the next morning in the Age and Argus, that my name was given as if I had done everything, and he, who was in the front of the hotel all day, had not been mentioned officially. That is why I thought it necessary to make that statement. I sent but one telegram that morning, and that was published. I was receiving telegrams of congratulation from Sydney and Victoria, and I do not think I sent but that one telegram that day. I remember saying to Captain Standish, “Here are a number of telegrams of congratulation; will you answer them for me;” for which I sent up l9s. afterwards. But if Mr. O'Connor or Mr. Nicolson is under the impression that I gave any version to any paper they are entirely mistaken.

1608a By the Commission. —Did you inspire either of the reporters of the daily papers for the next morning?— Not in any way.

1609 As a matter of fact were not the representatives of the Press the most capable of seeing the whole proceedings, not being themselves engaged in the affray, but merely observers?— I should think the Commission can easily judge of that.

Mr. O'Connor . —It was in the dark and the reporters did not leave the platform, I believe.

The Witness . —They were on the platform when I left.

1609a By the Commission. —Is it within your knowledge that the representatives of the Press started at the time with you to go to Jones's house?— No; I do not know what they did. When I went away they were on the platform, and when I returned they were on the platform.

1610 To the best of your knowledge and belief do you think the accounts which were written by the representatives of the Press were the results of what they saw or from communications from the officers engaged?— I fancy from information obtained on the spot at the time. I cannot say from whom or what they saw.

1611 Would that information be from personal observation, or was it conveyed to them?— I should fancy from personal observation. Reporters are not generally backward, they generally push themselves pretty well forward.

1612 How could they get it from personal observation on a very dark night?— In the same way as we did. Where was a moon and they saw that we left the platform, and that we returned, and the circumstances that came on, and the order in which they came.

1613 Was it moonlight?— Yes. I judge specially by the fact of being on the engine, and being able to see about twenty yards ahead of the engine on the line.

1614 Would not that be from the lamps?— No; all lights were put out from the time we started. If Mr. O'Connor thinks I sent any telegrams of the progress of affairs except the one I have alluded to, I will call for every telegram and show them to him; there is not one telegram I would not show him. I now wish to go over a few of the remarks in Mr. Nicolson's evidence, which I can recall to a certain extent. He states (I am quoting the Argus report): “He found a number of the men using hired horses, and some were hiring buggies.” That was when he came up on the second occasion. Mr. Nicolson has made a mistake in this. When I left the district I feel certain that there was not a hired horse in the district; but when I reached the district on the first occasion, in December, I found several men riding hired horses, and that was, of course, by his instructions. He was in charge at the time; and I found that the hire had gone beyond their value, and when I left the district there was not a hired horse being ridden by the police. Again, he states, “There was beautiful grass that season, and I had the horses turned into a paddock with an allowance of food besides the grass.” This was done at least three months before Mr. Nicolson relieved Captain Standish and myself. I hired a paddock from Mr. McBean, and also a small paddock in the town, so that the horses could be put in there when they were not being used and brought out at a moment's notice. Again, he says, “Have a return of police expenditure in connection with the pursuit of the Kellys.” When Captain Standish and myself arrived at Benalla in December, we found that none of the men had received any travelling allowance since they had commenced the pursuit, and they then began to send in their vouchers, and, of course, all the expenditure incurred before we came up there was paid during the time we were there......

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