At Midsummer Quarter Sessions at the Shire Hall, Hertford, on Monday, there was an appeal by Mr George Reginald Stamp, of Westlea, Wormley, against a conviction by the Cheshunt Bench for having acquired a quantity of syrup between 18th May 1917 and 1st February 1918, exceeding the quantity required for ordinary use and consumption in his household, contrary to the Food Hoarding Order, whereby he was fined £10. Sir Richard Muir was for the appellant and Mr St John Morrow for the respondents.
Mr St John Morrow detailed the facts in opening, which were to the effect that the case was heard by the Cheshunt Bench on 20th March 1918 upon a summons issued by the Inspector of the Ware Rural Food Committee. The Food Hoarding Order became operative on 9th April 1917. In consequence of information which came to the Ware Rural Food Control Committee, steps were taken to ascertain what supplies were delivered to his house.
The appellant was a gentleman of means and his household consisted of himself, his wife, and seven servants. As a result of the large supplies which were reported to have been received at this house, the Committee applied to the Food Commissioner for the Home Counties for authority to search the house, and this was carried out on 1st February by Mr Robertson and Inspector Moles.
Counsel was then about to read the list of articles found at the house, but Sir Richard Muir protested and the Chairman said the Court had decided that he must confine himself to the syrup which was the subject of this particular summons.
Continuing, Mr St John Morrow said that 20lbs of syrup were found and that the defendant was fined £10 in respect of that summons. It was for the appellant to show that the quantity was not in excess of that required for the consumption of the family. Since 18th May of last year, up until 26th November, a total of 36lbs of syrup was purchased from one firm, and two tins from another.
It showed that if there was 20lbs on 1st February, it was an enormous quantity of syrup, more than was ordinarily used in the house. The remoteness of a house was normally taken into consideration in such cases, but this house was only two miles from a town where there was an excellent store, and there was also one at Wormley.
Frank Fletcher, manager to Messrs Turner, Archer and Turner, of Wormley, said that they also had a branch at Hoddesdon. This house was only two miles from the Wormley branch. He proved the delivery of the syrup to the appellant’s house on various dates. They delivered once a week only now. There were two lots of syrup in 14lb tins. When cross-examined, Mr Fletcher said “They simply had an order for syrup”, and that they therefore sent according to the size of tins they had in stock. In answer to the Chairman, the witness said that if they did not happen to have a 4lb tin, they would send a 14lb one.
Henry Thomas Meadows, of Messrs Sholbreds, said that they had delivered two 2lb tins of syrup on 2nd October last year to the appellant’s house. They used to deliver at Wormley twice a week but they discontinued doing so before the end of last year.
Duncan Robertson, food inspector to the Ware Rural Food Committee, proved searching the premises with Inspector Moles. There were 10 persons in the household, so he was informed: Mr and Mrs Stamp, a companion, and 7 servants. The 20lbs of syrup was amongst the articles he found. In answer to the Chairman, the witness said that the syrup was in the store room where one would expect to find it.
Inspector Moles also gave evidence.
Sir Richard Muir said that the house was three and a half miles from Broxbourne Railway Station and outside the radius within which the company delivered, and that that was one reason why the household ought to be allowed to have a greater store than a person living in a place like London where they would send out for any article that they ran short of.
The household consisted of 10 persons, and Mr Stamp, like many other gentlemen, entertained guests from time to time. In August, there were 14 persons in the house, and for the few weeks before Christmas, there were 18. He also entertained guests at weekends. The family, when they lived in London, dealt at Sholbreds, and on coming to Wormley, continued to deal there, and at that time there were about 2 or 3 deliveries a week but they had ceased delivering there now, and that under these circumstances it was reasonable that a greater store of foodstuffs should be laid in.
Could they conceive a more ridiculous prosecution than to prosecute a man in a large house outside the radius of delivery by rail and whose sole source was a one day a week delivery from a store at Wormley, for having in his possession 20lbs of syrup, 14lbs of which was in one tin and in lieu of which a 4lb tin would have been supplied if it had been available? Sir Richard then raised some interesting legal points in connection with the case.
Mr and Mrs Stamp both gave evidence bearing out their Counsel’s remarks as to the facts. They did not consider the quantity of syrup was in excess of their requirements. Mr Stamp, in answer to some questions from Mr St John Morrrow, said that he did not conduct his household in such a way that he would expect to be charged with food hoarding. He was not prepared to go through every bit of pudding or jam that was consumed in his house.
Mr St John Morrow addressed the Court and said that having regard to the circumstances the Court did not know all the facts in the case. He might complain, but he had no redress. He dealt with the legal points raised.
The Justices retired, and afterwards the Chairman said they had decided the case upon the facts, and they allowed the appeal, with costs.
A second appeal relating to chocolate was also allowed.