Page 4 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 1 - 5
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The Attorney-General: My Lord, before this Inquiry begins I desire on behalf of His Majesty’s Government to express our deepest sympathy with all those who have to mourn the loss of relatives or friends amongst the passengers, the officers or the crew of this ill-fated vessel. My Lord, this terrible disaster in mid-ocean, both because in mere magnitude it exceeds any calamity in the history of the mercantile marine, and also because of many of its harrowing incidents, has in a profound and marked degree, touched the heart of the nation. Whilst not desiring in any way to anticipate the result of this Inquiry, I cannot refrain from paying a reverent tribute of warm admiration to those whose manful devotion to duty and heroic sacrifices for the safety of others, have maintained the best traditions of the sea. My Lord, before proceeding further, I know my learned friend, Sir Robert Finlay, would like to add something to what I have just stated. Sir Robert Finlay: My Lord, I desire to associate myself on behalf of my clients, the owners of the “Titanic,” with the expressions which the Attorney-General has used on behalf of the Government. No words can express the sympathy which everyone must feel for those who have suffered by this deplorable calamity. There is only one thing that gives some consolation, and to that the Attorney-General has alluded, that this disaster has given an opportunity for a display of discipline and of heroism which is worthy of all the best traditions of the marine of this country. I shall add no more, but the sympathy which we feel on this occasion with those who have suffered is really beyond expression in words. The President: Mr. Attorney and Sir Robert Finlay: In speaking for myself and speaking I am sure for those who are associated with me in this Inquiry, and speaking, if I may do so, for the public at large, I beg to say that, in my opinion, your kind and sympathetic words will be well appreciated. The Attorney-General: My Lord, with reference to the Inquiry which your Lordship is now about to commence, may I say that it is the earnest desire of the administration that a searching and thorough Inquiry should be made with the object of ascertaining as fully and as precisely as possible the circumstances surrounding the casualty, and also of deducing such lessons and arriving at such conclusions as may help hereafter to promote the safety of vessels and life at sea. My Lord, it is the wish of the President of the Board of Trade, and, my Lord, speaking on behalf of my learned friend and colleague, the Solicitor-General and myself as law officers of the Crown, I desire to add, in the public interest, that every possible source of information and all available evidence will be placed before your Lordship in this Inquiry. My Lord, any suggestion which you may think fit to make during the course of the case or after the evidence has been called on behalf of the Board of Trade will be accepted by us most willingly. In a word, may I say that throughout this Inquiry and acting entirely in the public interest the resources of the Government are unreservedly at your Lordship’s disposal. Now, my Lord, in regard to the Inquiry I should explain to you at the outset we shall be in some difficulty in calling Witnesses before you and particularly in presenting them in the order which we should have desired, because as your Lordship knows there is an Inquiry proceeding in the United States, and a large number of Witnesses who would otherwise be available have not yet come to this country. There is much material which we shall get later, and which will be presented to you. There are at the present moment a number of the crew who arrived in the “Lapland” who are available, and who are being detained by the Board of Trade. They should be called at the earliest moment, and I shall therefore place them before the Court as soon as we can get to evidence. My Lord, there are, of course, also Witnesses who will be presented as to the construction and equipment of the vessel, and I think we can deal with those at an early moment, but the course which I propose, subject to anything that my learned friend has to say, and of course always subject to your Lordship’s assent, is that today we should just decide upon the course of procedure, and that tomorrow I should open the case as well as I am able from the material
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