Birmingham Daily Post, 24 July 1885, page 3

Serious Charge Against a Birmingham Surgeon

At the Birmingham Police Court, yesterday – before Mr. A Hill, deputy-stipendiary – Dr .James Robert Marrian, Newtown Row, appeared to answer a summons charging him that he did, on May 12 last, unlawfully and wilfully sign a false vaccination certificate.  Mr. Bowen appeared for the parochial authorities, and Mr. JM Bayley for Mr. Marrian.  Mr. Bowen explained that several cases had been brought to the knowledge of the Guardians of certificates being improperly given, and they had decided to prosecute in four of them.

Susannah Webb was the first witness.  She said that on May 5 she took a child named Arthur Edward Squelch to defendant’s surgery, 55, Newtown Row, to be vaccinated.  The operation was performed by Mr. Marrian’s assistant, Mr. Smith.  on the 12th of May she took it again to be inspected, and it was inspected by the same gentleman who performed the operation. Dr. Marrian was not present on either occasion.  On Monday last Dr. Marrian called at her house, and asked her whether he had been present at the operation.  She replied, “NO” she then showed him a letter she had received asking her to be present at give evidence. He said it was not a summons, and she need not go.  He then asked her if she knew the addresses of any other witnesses in the cases.  She did not.  Cross examined by Mr. Bayley, witness said she had not seen Dr. Marrian before.  She was quite certain Dr .Marrian was not present at the surgery either when the operation was performed or when the child was inspected.

John Frederick Smith, the assistant to Dr. Marrian referred to, was the next witness.  He said he was not a registered medical practitioner.  He was in the habit of vaccinating children under Dr. Marrian’s instructions, and in his presence.  He could not say that the doctor would always be present, as he would sometimes be called out of the surgery for a moment.  He would sometimes inspect the children under the same circumstances as in the former case. Cross examined by Mr. Bayley: witness said the doctor had warned him not to vaccinate in his absence, and that if he had done so it was against the doctor’s instructions and wish.  The Clerk: I don’t see what that has to do with it.  Defendant is charged with giving a false certificate. – Witness (continuing) said that whenever he made any inspections he was under Mr. Marrian’s supervision.  The certificates were signed all together. Mr. Marrian vaccinated about twenty cases a week, and witness would fill up the body of the certificates, which the doctor would sign altogether.  There was nothing on the face of the certificates to enable him to distinguish, when signing them, between those cases he had himself inspected and those he had not.  Dr. Marrian personally vaccinated in 80 per cent of the cases, but witness could not say what proportion were operated upon in his presence and what proportion in his absence.  He identified Dr. Marrian’s signature on the certificate produced – Mr. Bowen put the certificate in evidence.

For the defence, Mr. Bayley said that the case appeared to him to be an enquiry with a view to discover how many patients his client had been vaccinating.  He contended that on the evidence which had been brought forward there was not an atom to show that the certificate had been wilfully made by his client knowing it to be false.  There was no imputation whatever the operation had been improperly performed, and he submitted that Dr. Marrian had fulfilled the requirements of the Act.

In giving his decision, the Deputy Stipendiary said he thought on the whole the case was one that ought to go before a jury.  He therefore committed the defendant for trial at the assizes.

Mr. Bowen said he proposed with the concurrence of the Bench, to withdraw the other summonses with the exception of the one charging Dr. Marrian with not delivering the vaccination certificate to the person in charge of the vaccinated child.  Subsequently, however, he withdrew this also on Dr. Marrian’s assurance that the offence should not be repeated.  Mr. Bayley explained that the doctor found it safer to send the certificates all together to the vaccination officer, as when he gave them to the parents, or those in charge of the children, they were frequently not forwarded to the proper quarter.

Dr Marrian was released on bail – himself in L40 and two sureties in L20.