From The Tribunal, July 27th 1916
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What is rightly called in the press “an unusual situation” arose at the York City Police Court on July 18, when Mr. Robert Kay, the presiding magistrate, refused to hand over to the Military Authorities Herbert Coupland, a conscientious objector, charged with being an absentee.
Mr. Kay said that the Act of Parliament exempted genuine conscientious objectors from military service. He knew the man before him, and knew him to be an honest, hard-working man, and a conscientious objector – not a shirker but a real man. He did not think the military authorities had any right to ask to be handed over to them a man whom the law of the land exempted from military service. He objected to handing him over to the military, because they had dealt so fiercely with others such as he who had been handed over previously. “Whatever may be the consequences,” he said, “I will not hand over, and I will not be a party to handing over Herbert Coupland, who I have known all his life, to be treated as some conscientious objectors have been dealt with.”
The other magistrate disagreeing, Coupland was discharged. He was, however, owing to the beneficent provisions of the law, charged again and brought before another magistrate, with the usual result.
The Yorkshire Herald said such conduct was absolutely against the whole principle of English law. We are beginning to agree. It further adds that it is largely inconsistent with the pure administration of justice; but that’s changing the subject