The cane for boys in a racing stable

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Leakage of secrets.

Mr. Persse seeks injunction.

Drink to tempt apprentices.

CASE. – Persse v. Prebble and Whiffen. COURT. – Chancery Division JUDGE. – Mr. Justice Luxmoore. COUNSEL. – For Plaintiff: Sir Patrick Hastings, K.C., and Mr. Henry Johnston. For Defendant Whiffen: Mr. Rayner Goddard. K.C. and Mr. Wilfrid Hunt. SOLICITORS. – For Plaintiff: William Easton and Sons. For Defendant Whiffen: Messrs. Speechly, Mumford, and Craig, agents for Messrs. Lamport, Bassitt, and Hiscock, Southampton. MR. Henry Seymour Persse, the racehorse trainer, of Chattis Hill, Stockbridge, Hampshire, alleged in an action against Alfred Edward Prebble, a garage proprietor, and Cyril Gordon Whiffen, a newsagent, of Stockbridge, that they obtained improperly secret information about his horses. He claimed an injunction to restrain them from inciting or inducing or instigating apprentices or stable boys to disclose his secrets. Prebble did not defend that action. Sir Patrick Hastings said it was alleged that Prebble was a racing tout or tipster, and Whiffen obtained information from the stable boys by improperly questioning them. The apprentices were under a strict agreement enjoining secrecy. So vital was this considered to be that if an apprentice were dismissed for a breach of the rule probably he would never be allowed by the Jockey Club to enter a stable or even go on a racecourse. Boys began at the age of fourteen and had to be treated almost as schoolboys.

Mr. Persse’s trick.

Near Stockbridge were villages whose names ended in Wallop — a significant title — and at a small public house called the Five Bells, in one of them, it was alleged that Whiffen had been giving drink to the boys with the object of obtaining information. Mr. Persse, in an endeavour to find out how information was leaking out, remarked to a friend just outside the stable where an employee was standing that a horse called Empire Builder was running in the Cambridgeshire, but he was not going to back it. Within a period of hours Mr. Prebble was circularising his clients with a statement that Empire Builder would run, but Mr. Persse would not back it.

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Whiffen had been refused permission to enter the stables, and since then he had made a habit of visiting the Five Bells at Wallop, which some of the apprentices also visited, and it was not unusual for them to return the worse for drink. In no case where Mr. Persse had been given the information he desired from the boys did he take any disciplinary action against them. Mr. Persse gave evidence. Cross-examined by Mr. Rayner Goddard, who asked whether the boys in his stables received severe corporal punishment, Mr. Persse replied, “No, they are caned as boys at school are caned occasionally.” “Did one boy run away because of the flogging he received? — Very likely. Did he come back? — Yes. And he got another flogging? — No. Did your boys run away? — Frequently. After caning? — No, they got home-sick. He added that the boys were now locked in at nights, the doors and windows being barred, and there was a roll-call. He assented to a suggestion that there was scarcely a stable in England where there had not been a certain amount of leakage of information. Re-examined, Mr. Persse said he had been training horses for thirty years, and he had found corporal punishment was necessary in dealing with apprentices. Boys who got out of the building after the doors had been locked took the hinges off the doors. Mr. Charles Edward Leach, late inspector of the C.I.D., gave evidence of inquiries he made on Mr. Persse’s behalf. Whiffen admitted that he met some of Mr. Persse’s stable boys at the Five Bells and had stood them drinks. The hearing was adjourned until to-day.  


Corpun file 24663 at www.corpun.com

Daily Mail, London, 11 December 1930, p.6

Racing stable secrets.

Apprentices’ story of drink bribes.

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CASE. – Persse v. Prebble and Whiffen. COURT. – Chancery. JUDGE. – Mr. Justice Luxmoore. COUNSEL. – For the- Plaintiff: Sir Patrick Hastings, K.C. and Mr. Henry Johnston. For Mr. Whiffen: Mr. Roland Oliver, K.C., and Mr. Wilfrid Hunt SOLICITORS. – For the Plaintiff: Messrs. Wm. Easton and Sons. For Mr. Whiffen: Messrs. Speechly, ,Mumford and Craig, agents for Messrs. Lamport, Bassett and Hiscock, Southampton. The hearing was continued of this case, in which Mr. Henry Seymour Persse, race-horse trainer, of Stockbridge, Hampshire, claimed an injunction to restrain Mr. Alfred Edward Prebble, a garage proprietor, and Mr. Cyril Gordon Whiffen, a newsagent, of Stockbridge, from inducing or inciting Mr. Persse’s apprentices to disclose his stable secrets. Mr. Prebble did not defend the action. Sir Patrick Hastings, for Mr. Persse, referred to the statement in Mr. Persse’s cross-examination: that stable boys had been flogged, and said this was a very painful matter to Mr. and Mrs. Persse, who devoted endless care to the boys. The manager of the boys’ club and his wife lived there, and as far as the boy Carroll, who was said to have run away after being flogged, was concerned, Sir Patrick had a letter written by the boy’s father to Mr. Persse, urging him to give the boy a caning. Mr. Percy Price, secretary to Mr. Persse, who accompanied ex-Detective Inspector Leach on his inquiries, said he heard Whiffen admit he had given the boys drink. Charles Watson, stableman to Mr. Persse, said he had seen Whiffed treating stable boys at the Five Bells public house, Wallop, to beer, lemonade, port, and whisky. On one occasion he had seen some of the boys very drunk. Mr. Price said the drinking took place in a small room behind a curtain. William Edward Sharpe, aged 20, an apprentice of Mr. Persse, said that Whiffen asked him at a dance if a horse named Thyestes which was entered for a race in three days’ time would win. He replied he did not know, and Whiffen also asked how the trial of Thyestes went off. He (Sharpe) walked away because he realised that Whiffen was trying to get information out of him. Michael Shine, aged 20, another of Mr. Persse’s apprentices, said Whiffen at the Five Bells had often given him a drink. He had also bought drinks for other boys. Asked if he knew why Whiffen should offer the boys drink Shine replied: To try to get information from them.

“A blackguardly thing.”

Mr. Whiffen, giving evidence in his defence, denied that he had tried to get secrets out of Mr. Persse’s boys. He treated some of them to drink but that was not done to get stable information. Sir Patrick Hastings (cross-examining): Don’t you think it would be a blackguardly thing for a grown man to go to a place where these small apprentices were in the habit of going and ask them questions about horses? — Certainly. Mr. Whiffen also denied that he hid given the boys drink when they were drunk. The hearing was adjourned until to-day.  


Corpun file 24665 at www.corpun.com

Daily Mail, London, 12 December 1930, p.4

Stable secrets.

Injunctions to stop men tempting apprentices.

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CASE. – Persse v. Prebble and Whiffen. COURT. – Chancery. JUDGE. – Mr. Justice Luxmoore. COUNSEL. – For the Plaintiff: Sir Patrick Hastings, K.C., and Mr. Henry Johnston. For Mr. Whiffen: Roland Oliver, K.C., and Mr. Wilfrid Hunt. SOLICITORS. – For the Plaintiff: Messrs. Wm. Easton and Sons. For Mr. Whiffen: Messrs. Speechly, Mumford and Craig, agents for Messrs. Lamport, Bassett and Hiscock, Southampton. Mr. Henry Seymour Persse, racehorse trainer, Stockbridge, Hampshire, succeeded in his action against Mr. Alfred Edward Prebble, a garage proprietor, and Mr. Cyril Gordon Whiffen, a newsagent, both of Stockbridge, for an injunction to restrain them from inciting or inducing his apprentices to disclose stable secrets. Mr. Prebble put in no defence. Mr. Roland Oliver, for Whiffen, said the issue in the case was whether Whiffen associated with the stable boys to obtain information by means of giving them drink. Whiffen, who was a young man, was keenly interested in racing, and because he occasionally mentioned horses to the boys, that could be no ground for granting an injunction against him. “I am not attacking Mr. Persse,” said Mr. Oliver, “or reflecting on his treatment of the boys, but obviously it would be better for him if the boys were deaf and dumb. Mr. Persse is entitled to take every step to enforce secrecy and to be in a position to cane the boys if he liked.”

Disciplining boys.

Mr. Justice Luxmoore: These boys came to him at an early age, and they must have discipline, at least the sort of discipline you get at school. Sir Patrick Hastings, for Mr. Persse, said that here was Mr. Whiffen, an apparently affluent man with an apparently affluent car, driving to this public-house promiscuously giving drinks to boys whom he did not know. The evidence had shown that there was a conversation with regard to trials of Mr. Persse’s horses. Mr. Justice Luxmoore, giving judgment, said he was satisfied that the statement made by ex-Inspector Leach as to what he was told by the wife of the landlord of the Five Bells was accurate. He would grant an injunction against Whiffen as claimed. With regard to the cross-examination of Mr. Persse, there was no ground, he said, for any suggestion that any improper treatment had been meted out in the stables to any of the boys. A similar injunction was granted against Prebble.