Page 51 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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happened in the boat. What I have said, and what I intend to adhere to, is that I am going to make no comment on the conduct of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and Lady Duff-Gordon. As I understand, the personal incident was introduced at first by some underlying suggestion that Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon had promised money to the men not to go back to the spot at which the “Titanic” had sunk, in order that they might run no risk. Of course, if there had been evidence of that, it would be a matter, I presume, which your Lordship would not for a moment have passed over. But looking at the evidence, of course it is quite clear upon the evidence that that did not take place. I have been through it very carefully. And short of that, whether or not, having regard to what I may call the highest duties which are imposed upon persons in such circumstances, they should have gone back or should have done their best to persuade the men in charge of the boat to go back, is not a matter which it seems to me your Lordship will have to deal with. It has almost always to be left to considerations which are really not considerations which would sway a Court of law. Men and women will always differ to all eternity between what should be done in circumstances such as those described, and therefore it is that I am making no comment, and intend making no criticism in any way upon what took place with regard to that. It seemed to me not to be a matter which your Lordship would deal with. But the boat, and the conduct of the man in charge of the boat, I think we must deal with. I indicated that some days ago when I first mentioned this. The Commissioner: My own view of the matter is this: It is material to enquire why that particular boat did not contain a proper number of passengers, and to the extent to which the acts or conduct of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon can explain, or can be said to explain, why that boat did not contain a full or proper complement of passengers. I think it is quite right that what he said and what he did and what his wife said and did, should be enquired into. But beyond that I do not see that it is at all necessary to go. I do not propose myself to make any reflections, at present at all events, at all upon the conduct of either the gentleman or his wife, and I want to add that if I do not my silence is not to be taken as any adverse reflection on him at all. I shall be silent simply because it has got nothing to do with what I have before me. The Attorney-General: As your Lordship pleases. The Commissioner: I do not know whether I have made it plain. I think, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Scanlan, you are both entitled to make any comments that you think proper upon the acts and conduct of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, so far as they may be said to explain why that boat did not succeed in saving more people. I think you are quite entitled to do that, and I do not think you would discharge your duty if you did not do it; but, at the same time, it occurs to me that you may be able to do it without any reflections upon his conduct as a man. The Attorney-General: There is one other matter I want to mention. The Commissioner: There is one I want to mention, and I will do it when you have finished. The Attorney-General: After I left on Wednesday your Lordship had a little discussion with my friends, Mr. Butler Aspinall and Mr. Laing, who are, of course, best qualified to express their views as to the practice in these Enquiries. My Lord, I confess that I thought it was necessary, and I think it necessary now, to make some observations to your Lordship with regard to what took place on that occasion, so that at any rate it may be made clear what the argument is which will be put to the Court by me at the end of this Enquiry, and so that my learned friend, Sir Robert Finlay, who I understand is representing also Captain Smith - Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. The Attorney-General: Will have the opportunity of dealing with what I am about to say. I am very anxious, as your Lordship will understand, not in any way to press anything against either Captain Smith or the other officers who, unfortunately, met their fate on this occasion - so far as it is possible for me, whilst, at the same time doing my duty in this Enquiry I should wish to avoid it. The practice of these Courts of Enquiry has been, speaking generally, and only
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