Chesterton Knew The Importance of Ecumenical Dialogue

Chesterton Knew The Importance of Ecumenical Dialogue

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Marconi scandal, Chesterton & All That

Allegations and rumours centred on insider trading in Marconi's shares and involved a number of government ministers, including Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; Sir Rufus Isaacs, the Attorney General; Herbert Samuel, Postmaster General; and the Treasurer of the Liberal Party, the Master of Elibank, Lord Murray.

The allegations included the fact that Isaacs' brother, Godfrey Isaacs, was managing director of the Marconi company. While some have seen anti-Semitism in the charges, the majority of those accused were not Jewish, and the allegations, whether true or not, were well-founded and serious enough to be brought to public attention. Particularly active was the New Witness, edited by Cecil Chesterton. This was a distributist publication founded in 1911 by Hilaire Belloc as Eye-Witness, with Cecil's brother G. K. Chesterton on the editorial staff.

Cecil Chesterton, expected to be sued by the government ministers under the nation's libel laws, which put the burden of proof on the defendant. Instead, Godfrey Isaacs, Marconi's director, brought a criminal libel action against him. The New Age (June 12, 1913) described the trial this way:

If circumstantial evidence were ever sufficient to justify a charge, we do not doubt that in the case of Mr. Godfrey Isaacs v. Mr. Cecil Chesterton, the latter and not the former would have won. The case of Mr. Chesterton was admittedly based on circumstances and on such reasonable deductions from them as on the face of the facts any average mind would have felt impelled to draw. Unfortunately, however, for him the circumstances themselves proved insusceptible of any further evidence than their own existence.

The court ruled against Cecil Chesterton and fined him a token £100 plus costs, which was paid by his supporters. Some supporters claimed the decision would have gone differently had Cecil's lawyer aggressively gone after the accused ministers who were at the heart of the scandal. In the next issue of the New Witness, Cecil Chesterton repeated his allegations against the ministers, who still did not sue. (I got this from Wikipedia) For more details see the biography of G. K. Chesterton by Maisie Ward.

Marconi has since gone bust! And on 14th June 2011, the 75th Anniversary of the death of GK Chesterton, Marconi House in London caught fire!

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