William Pomroy, a police constable in A Division was stationed opposite Westminster Hall in the early evening of Tuesday 27 June 1866. As the house had just finished sitting and many of the MPS were beginning to leave the building when PC Pomroy noticed a man trying to get in the way of them as they came out. He seemed determined to obstruct and argue with them so the constable asked him to move along.
He didn’t go far though and stood, legs akimbo with his hands in his pockets, blocking the pathway. PC Pomroy came up to him again, placed his hand on the man’s shoulder and tried to propel him the direction of the other bystanders,, a little way off.
Instead of complying with the officer’s command however the man turned around and punched the PC in the mouth, cutting his lip. Not surprisingly he was promptly arrested and produced before Mr Arnold the sitting magistrate at Westminster Police court on the following morning.
The accused’s name was Frederick Michael O’Connor and he spoke with a ‘strange Scottish accent’. The justice asked him what he had to say for himself.
‘I wished to see some of the members’, the man answered, ‘and was standing there for that purpose when I found I was suddenly in crowd, and I got pushed about, first one way and then another, and I found that I could not get out’.
As the MPs left the palace there ‘was a great deal of excitement, and people showed their feelings’ he added.
It sounds as if it had got quite rowdy and that the politicians were coming in for some stick from the gathered crowds (no change there then). He said that the policeman had pushed him and that he’d lost his temper and had struck out.
‘He [only] told you to move’ said Mr Arnold.
‘Yes, but I suppose I did not do it fast enough; and then he pushed me, and I hit him’ O’Connor explained somewhat sheepishly.
He wasn’t the usual rabble rouser or ‘rough’ and I doubt he made a habit of hitting policemen. The copper had probably acted hastily as well, not being aware that the man was evidently upset at finding himself hemmed in by a crowd.
But assaults on the police could not be tolerated and he was fined 10sand warned he would go to prison for a week if he couldn’t pay.
[from The Morning Post, Thursday, June 28, 1866]