Page 205 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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refuse to answer these questions because they may incriminate me.” The Attorney-General: Yes. The Commissioner: But he did not do that, you know. The Attorney-General: Different considerations apply, I think, when you are determining whether a crime has been committed, and your Lordship would have to go into questions which certainly, it appears to me, it is unnecessary to find in this case, and which I am not asking you to find in order to determine whether a crime was committed. I will give an indication of what I mean. Supposing he came to a mistaken conclusion with regard to what he saw, clearly there is no crime. Supposing he was careless in coming to that conclusion, there is no crime; but, nevertheless, if you were sitting on another tribunal dealing with the matter from other points of view, you might say, “Well, he ought to have come to the conclusion that these were distress signals from a passenger steamer, and he ought to have gone to the rescue of that vessel.” Suppose he, the Captain of the “Californian,” thought that these rockets were distress signals, and that they came from a vessel in distress, apart altogether from whether she was a passenger steamer or not, then you have to consider whether he has any excuse for not going to the assistance of this vessel. Of course there are a number of considerations which you would have to take into account then: Whether he thought he could safely reach her; whether he thought he was running a risk; whether, owing to the fact that he was among ice, and, apparently, according to his evidence, for the first time, that may have formed some explanation of why he did not at once proceed to the assistance of this vessel. All those are questions which no doubt would be very relevant indeed when you are considering whether or a not a misdemeanor has been committed. I am not going to ask you to find that at all. What I am asking you to find is the fact that they did see on the “Californian” distress signals and that were distress signals from the “Titanic,” and that the distance of the “Titanic” from the “Californian” was only a few miles. The Commissioner: How many? The Attorney-General: I should put it at something like seven or eight. It is very difficult to say. I do not profess to be able to say with precision. The Commissioner: That is a very difficult question on the evidence. The Attorney-General: I agree it is very difficult to say. I think it was put by him in America and also here at 19 1/2 miles; and then by a later explanation he says he had to steam just on 30 miles to get there. The Commissioner: Because he could not go the direct way. The Attorney-General: Yes, that is as far as I ask the Court to go. It is as far as it is necessary to go for the questions I am putting to you. For one thing, I should be very sorry to do an injustice to Captain Lord, and I am very anxious that in any event nothing should be said as a conclusion by your Lordship which would suggest that he had committed a misdemeanor. Of course, as your Lordship says, no such question is put to you and no such question is made by me. But still we must get to some conclusion upon this state of the evidence. The Commissioner: You formulated a question for me to answer? The Attorney-General: Yes, purposely. The Commissioner: And I must answer it somehow; at least, I think I must. The Attorney-General: It is the question in Question 24: How it was that assistance did not reach the “Titanic” before the “Carpathia” arrived? The “Californian” is the vessel. The Commissioner: It is the only vessel as is pointed out. The Attorney-General: Yes, I framed the question purposely so as to get an answer upon this evidence. The Commissioner: I think you have explained to me sufficiently how you think I ought to deal with this. The Attorney-General: If your Lordship pleases.
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