A very important case came up at the Mansion House, on October 21st, in which Mr. Maurice Woolf, of 7, Alvington Crescent, Dalston, and 16, Norton Folgate, City, attended before Mr. Alderman Davies on a summons, at the instance of Her Majesty's Board of Customs, for having unlawfully made a declaration under the Statutory Declarations Act, 1835, well knowing it to be untrue in a certain material particular. He pleaded "Not guilty." Mr. W. R. M'Connell and Mr. Macklin, instructed by the solicitor to the Customs, were counsel for the prosecution; Mr. Fillan for the defence. Mr. M'Connell, in opening the case, said under the Revenue Act, 1883, it was provided that all gold and silver plate imported into this country should be entered to be warehoused and deposited in a bonded warehouse, and should not be delivered for home use until assayed, marked, and stamped according to law.Other provisions related to the assaying and stamping of the goods, if of standard quality, and there was this enactment—that plate imported for private use, and not for sale, should be exempted upon proof by statutory declaration being furnished to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs. It was alleged that the defendant made a statutory declaration before Mr. William Carter, a commissioner of oaths, in Idol Lane, that a certain box of foreign plate, which he had imported from Amsterdam, was for his own use, and not for sale, and that, having thus obtained the delivery of the goods to him, he, contrary to that declaration, sold the plate, or portions of it, to Messrs. Jones and Co., of Long Acre. Evidence in support of the opening statement was given. It seemed that the box of plate contained 160 articles, and that the defendant declared that they were solely for his own use or for presents, and not for sale. The Customs officers remarked upon the similarity of many of the articles, and the defendant said he had purchased them in Holland for 2,000 guilders, and that he was obliged to buy the whole case in order to get the particular articles he wanted. The defendant was allowed to remove the plate, but the Customs officials, unknown to him, placed certain marks upon it which enabled them to identify it again, and, being suspicious, they also had his premises watched. It was proved that the plate was subsequently sold in two parcels to Messrs. Jones and Co., silversmiths and plate dealers, at 19, Long Acre, for £289, the defendant representing that he was the agent of a dealer in Amsterdam. Mr. A. W. Starkey, a Custom-house officer, deposed that, in consequence of information that the defendant was offering Dutch plate for sale to a Mr. Davis, he visited the premises in Norton Folgate, and, representing himself as Davis's agent, he was shown the plate for sale, and subsequently purchased, on behalf of the Customs authorities, various articles for £19, which he produced. Afterwards he proceeded to Messrs. Jones's premises and saw other plate of the same kind. It was stated that the plate in question was not up to the English silver standard, but was below it to the extent of one ounce in the pound troy. At the close of the prosecution, Mr. Fillan submitted that his client had committed no indictable offence. Mr. Alderman Davies thought otherwise, and committed the defendant for trial at the Central Criminal Court, admitting him meanwhile to bail.
Source: The Watchmaker, Jeweller and Silversmith - 2nd November 1891