Ernest Lynd, publishing disloyal statement

Ernest Lynd (alias Lind, alias John Jacobson)
Labourer, born 1878, Russia
Tried: 19 July 1917, Auckland Magistrate’s Court
Charge: Publishing a disloyal statement
Sentence: 11 months’ imprisonment.

Wartime conditions generated a profound suspicion of foreigners at large in New Zealand, and any overheard making controversial comments were likely to attract the attention of the police. Constables brought Russian watersider Ernest Lynd before the Auckland magistrate in July 1917, alleging he had ‘published a statement indicating disloyalty or disaffection in connection with the war’. The ‘publication’ was in fact a series of remarks he had made to fellow watersider Joseph Owens, claiming that the British were ‘all bluff’ and if they ‘fought hand-to-hand against Germany they would be wiped out’. Lynd proclaimed himself a socialist, and wished he could be back in Russia to help ‘stir things up’ during this year of revolutionary upheaval. Owens reported these remarks to Constable Gourley, who arrested Lynd.

Lynd told the magistrate that Owens had provoked him into making the comments by insulting Russia – he had been trying to ‘scandalise’ Owens with his rejoinder. He claimed that, as a foreigner, ‘the police were continually picking on him’. The magistrate took the view that Lynd’s comments had been disloyal; his record of brawling and status as ‘a foreigner of doubtful antecedents’ left him no choice but to sentence him to 11 months in prison.


Sources: Police Gazette, 1918, p. 280; Auckland Star, 19 July 1917, p. 6 (Papers Past)

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