By a Staff Reporter
The alleged libel is contained in articles appearing in the Daily Worker in December, referring to the visit of Trade Union chiefs, including Sir Walter Citrine, to France for the inauguration of the Anglo-French Trades Union Council.
The plaintiffs complain that these articles, if true, would mean that they were plotting with French Trade Union leaders to betray the Trade Union Movement.. Sir William Jowitt, K.C., leading counsel for the plaintiffs, had hard things to say about the Daily Worker and the Communist Movement In general.
" The Voice of Moscow " "Although the hands that wrote the copy, set the type and issued the paper may be the hands of Mr Poutney (proprietor of the Daily Worker) or his subordinates, the voice is the voice of Moscow." And that, as Sir William remarked, might perhaps be only fair, for
"he who pays the piper calls the tune. ."
" The Communist Party has long regarded the trade unions as a field of exploitation. They have tried infiltration and then vilification, describing these plaintiffs (Sir Walter Citrine, Mr George Hicks, M.P., Mr John Brown, Miss Florence Hancock, Mr G. H. Bagnall, Mr James Kaylor and Mr Andrew Conley) by such homely phrases as lickspittles and lackeys."
After reading out the alleged libels, Sir William asked the judge " to award the plaintiffs very substantial damages, not that we hope to gel a penny piece, but to show the gravity of these statements."
Then Mr D. N. Pritt, K.C., chief counsel for the proprietor of the Daily Worker, began his long cross-examination of Sir Walter Citrine by asking him to substantiate his statement—made in reply to a question from Sir William Jowitt—that the Daily Worker received money from Moscow.
On Tuesday the cross-examination was continued. Altogether a most interesting battle : Mr Pritt, suave, soothing, unhurried, occasionally commenting on some impetuous statement by Sir Walter Citrine with acid geniality: Sir Walter answering the sometimes intricate questioning forthrightly, and now and again with some impatience at what he considered irrelevancies, or perhaps with a loquacity that Mr Pritt would turn to good purpose for his clients. When Mr Pritt quoted from an official publication of the Communist Party, Sir Walter asked, " Is there any balance sheet there?"
"No, I don't think there is."
Sir Walter : I should think not. It would soon show where the money was coming from!
Worse Than War?
After a good deal of close questioning on some of the French Labour decrees, Sir Walter was asked if, supposing he were persuaded that It was necessary in order to win the war, he would be prepared to advise the imposition on British workers of conditions similar to those in force in France. Sir Walter answered that the question was hypothetical and he did not think any such occasion would arise. The Judge intervened, leaning back and stretching out one arm and then the other, he suggested that he should put Mr Pritt's question in a different way: "Can you think of any greater evil than our losing the war?"
"No, 1 cannot," replied Sir Walter. "Nor can I," commented the Judge.