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Colonial Cases

R. v. Lee, 1919


R. v. Lee

Police Court, Shanghai
7 January 1919
Source: The Canton Times, 16 January 1919



   Mr. F. Alan Robinson (Magistrate) gave his decision in H.M. Police Court at Shanghai on January 7 in the case of Colin Henry Lee, who was charged:

For that he, being the responsible editor of the "Shanghai Gazette," did unlawfully publish in a printed newspaper, to wit, the "Shanghai Gazette," in an article containing seditious matter, contrary to the China (Amendment) Order in Council 1909, Section 2, Sub-Sections 1 & 8.

  In giving his decision, his Worship said: - I wish to say first of all that I consider the prosecution have rendered a valuable service in bringing to the notice of the public the provisions of the Order in Council - the China (Amendment) Order in Council, 1909.

   The liberty of the Press is restricted in certain matters by the ordinary law of England, but so far as British papers and British journalists are concerned it is further restricted by the provisions of Article 2 of that Order in Council; and it is important that the provisions of that Order should be generally known.

    I have read carefully the article in the "Shanghai Gazette" which caused the substance of the complaint.  That article showed abundant traces of ill-feeling, on the part of the writer of the article, against Japanese, but as I read the Order in Council, I have to find more than that; I have to find not only that the writer wished to write matter calculated to excite enmity between Japanese subjects and British subjects, but I have also to fined that he has succeeded in writing such matter.

   Now the article consists in the main of three statements.  These statements, we are assured, are without foundation in fact.  They are: that the Japanese wished three more seats on the Municipal Council; that for the purpose of obtaining more votes they were raising their rents; and that their object in doing so is to obtain a fair share of Municipal contracts.  Those statements are denied.  But if they were true I cannot find anything in them of which any Japanese need ne ashamed, nor anything in them which is likely to excite enmity against Japanese on the part of others.

   My conclusion is, therefore, that the writer of the article has not succeeded in writing matter calculated to excite enmity, and that the article is therefore not within the Order in Council.  The summons will therefore be dismissed.


The Canton Times, 16 January 1919

Shanghai Japanese Consulate Fails To Establish Case Against "Shanghai Gazette."

   The charge brought against Mr. Corinth Henry Lee, of the Shanghai Gazette, at the instance of the Police and based on the Order in Council (China) with reference to certain alleged seditious matter that is stated to have appeared in the issue of November 27, was again before the magistrate (Mr. F. Alan Robinson) at the British Police Court at Shanghai January 6.

   Mr. K. E. Newman, Police Legal adviser, prosecuted and the defendant was represented by Mr. R. F. C. Masters.  Mr. E. W. Godfrey watched the case on behalf of the Japanese Consul-General.

   Mr. Newman contended that the section of the Order under which the charge was made referred to the words "matter that might be calculated to cause tumult or disorder between His Majesty's subjects and the subjects of any Powers living together in amity."  The Police, Mr. Newman stated, had taken the matter up because of complaints made to them by the Japanese Consul.

   Mr. K. Kisha, Japanese vice-consul at Shanghai stated that in consequence of complaints made to him by members of the Japanese Residents' Corporation, he had brought the article complained to to the notice of the Police.  They wanted to prevent such objectionable articles.  The article had no truth or foundation in it.

   Set. Sub Inspector and Chief Inspector Vaughan gave formal evidence.

   Mr. Newman contended that such an article and particularly the poster accompanying it might lead to disorder, particularly if it were translated in the Chinese press.  The object of the charge was not vindictive.  They merely wished to prevent a recurrence of such articles.

   Mr. Master pointed out that the prosecution had failed to bring forward evidence which would justify his Honour framing a charge against the defendant.  The paper was conducted on American lines, and the poster complained of was merely typical of many publishers, such as "President Wilson captures England," "Asquith gets the Boot," and were intended as a catch phrases and an advertisement.  The policy of the paper was not anti-Japanese.  The Order in Codicil referred to something quite different when it mentioned "seditious matter."  The article clearly stated that it was merely based on rumour.  It was written in the form of a report, it was not editorial comment, and was not calculated to create disorder.  He (Mr. Master) therefore asked that the case be dismissed.

   His Honour said he would read over the article in questyion and give his decision tomorrow morning.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School