Page 204 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 204
that arises upon the evidence, and nothing more. I am dealing only with the evidence of the “Californian” for this purpose. There is a conflict between the various witnesses called from the “Californian.” The facts alleged on the one hand are these, that the “Californian” saw distress signals. As to that there is no conflict. To be quite accurate with regard to it I think one might say that the Captain does not admit that they were distress signals, but he admits that they might have been. That is the exact position. I will show that by reference to one question. Further, that those distress signals came from a vessel in the direction in which the “Titanic” was. That there is no dispute about. The further point is that, having seen the distress signals, the “Californian” took no steps, except to attempt to do Morse signaling with a light. I think that is the position. The comment I make upon it is that for the Master of a British vessel to see distress signals, whether they came from a passenger steamer or not, and whether from a passenger steamer of the size of the “Titanic” or not, is a very serious matter, and because it is a serious matter we have enquired into it very carefully during the course of this investigation; but, having regard to the Enquiry, I think all that your Lordship is asked to do, certainly all that I am asking you to do, is to give the view of the facts which you have formed after hearing all the evidence. I mean by that that suppose your Lordship came to the conclusion that we were right in saying that she did see distress signals and that they were the signals of a passenger steamer of the “Titanic,’ and took no steps, that is a finding of fact which I should ask your Lordship to give in the Report which you may make. I do not ask you to do anything more. In point of fact Captain Lord is not summoned before you to answer some attack upon his certificate. That is not the position of matters. What has happened here is that in the course of the Enquiry facts which are relevant to this Enquiry have been brought before your Lordship, that there is a conflict of evidence as to these facts, that on one view of the facts they have a bearing undoubtedly upon the conduct of one or more persons upon the “Californian,” but they also are relevant to the Enquiry, and if they are relevant to the Enquiry the fact that your Lordship may in arriving at your conclusion find a state of things to have existed which reflects upon some person who is not actually on trial and cited to appear before you as on trial, is no reason, I submit, why your Lordship should not express your opinion on the facts. The Commissioner: Finding the facts and expressing an opinion upon them are two different things. The Attorney-General: I agree; that is why I said expressing your opinion upon the facts and ask you to say on the somewhat conflicting evidence which is the correct one. The Commissioner: Let me put it quite plainly: If Captain Lord saw these distress signals and neglected a reasonable opportunity, which he had of going to the relief of the vessel in distress, it may very well be that he is guilty of a misdemeanor. That is so, is it not? The Attorney-General: Yes, under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1906. The Commissioner: Am I to try that question. The Attorney-General: Certainly not. The Commissioner: I think not. The Attorney-General: Certainly not, my Lord. I never asked and could not ask your Lordship to try that question, but, nevertheless, the facts, which you are asked to find, whether they reflect upon him or not, are material to the Enquiry. The Commissioner: The facts I can find, but I do not want, unless I am obliged to do it, to find a man guilty of a crime. The Attorney-General: No, my Lord. The Commissioner: I do not think I have tried him for any such purpose. The Attorney-General: I agree. The Commissioner: And, moreover, as you know perfectly well, he might, if he had had any idea that he was going to be tried for a crime, have said when he was in the witness-box: “I
   199   200   201   202   203   204   205   206   207   208   209