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1947

Much ado about the radio inspector

by

DAVID HENDERSON

 

March 10, 2014

 

A few short years ago, much ado was made, and rightfully so, of a government inspector getting carried away with his job. But how many alive today know that for a good many years you had to get a licence from the government to have a radio in your home? Following is a story from the Kings County Record regarding one such government representative.

 

Sussex – Sept. 25, 1947

 

A charge of being in possession of a radio apparatus “otherwise than in accordance with a license granted in that behalf by the ministry of reconstruction and supply” against a Sussex man, J.L. McKenna, was dismissed in the Sussex police court last Friday after Mr. McKenna declared the charge was brought because Radio Inspector Edward Ginn was “too lazy to do his job and see whether there was a license”. A similar charge against another Sussex resident was withdrawn when it was shown he had purchased a radio license on April 5.

 

Inspector Ginn said in his evidence: “On July 28, 1947, at approximately 4:15 p.m., I called at the home of Louis McKenna, Court Street, in Sussex, and, during the course of my duty as radio inspector, I requested that a license be produced to cover his table model radio. I was admitted to his house by a lady who gave her name as Mrs. Steeves. No license could be produced during my visit. I then submitted Mr. Louis McKenna’s name to headquarters to have the record thoroughly checked to ascertain if such a person had a license for Court Street in the Town of Sussex. No trace of a license was found after the records were searched, and a minister’s order was then sent to me to take the necessary action. That is about all.”

 

Cross-examined by Mr. McKenna, Inspector Ginn said he first knew the accused was in possession of a radio July 28. He did not know who the Mrs. Steeves who admitted him to the house was.

 

“You go into somebody’s house with knowing who let you in?” Mr. McKenna asked, “The person who gave you the name was Mrs. Steeves and she told you it was my house. What right had you to do through my house without a search warrant?”

 

Inspector Ginn replied “I have a card of authority here that I will submit to Your Honour”.

 

Mr. McKenna commented “That does not give you permission to go into a house without the owner’s consent”.

 

“If I ask any person ‘May I see your radio’ and they say yes, I do not force my way into anybody’s home. If they do not permit me to the home I ask for a search warrant. I do not force my way”, Inspector Ginn answered.

 

“You do not make any attempt to see anyone in authority, just anyone who will let you into the house, into private quarters, without the owner being present?” Mr. McKenna said, “Did you make any attempt to find out if there was a license?’.

 

“No.”

 

“Isn’t that part of your job?”

 

Inspector Ginn said it was not, “My part is to request a license to be produced. If you would read the license, you will see this license must be kept on the radio for inspection”.

 

“You went in and saw the radio and were not shown a license?” Mr. McKenna said.

 

Inspector Ginn: “The license should be available for inspection and was not produced”.

 

“By whom should the license be made available?”

 

“It should be kept on the radio. If you drive an automobile you make sure you have a license with you”.

 

Mr. McKenna asked “Did you make any check yourself to find out if there was a radio license?”

 

“I checked at the post office”

 

“And what did you find?”

 

“I do not know if I found you with a license or not”.

 

Inspector Ginn replied “No” to Mr. McKenna’s question “Did you make any attempt to find out where I was?”

 

Magistrate Bonnell then admitted in evidence a radio license to J. Louis McKenna dated July 8.

 

Mr. McKenna asked “Do you realize, Mr. Ginn, you have wasted everyone’s time by not checking up?”

 

“No, I do not consider it a waste of time. I do not consider it is a waste of time if you read ‘This license must be kept on the radio and available for inspection’.”

 

“It may have been on the radio for all you know.” Mr. McKenna pointed out.

 

“I looked at the radio, I cannot say whether a license was on the it”, Inspector Ginn asserted.

 

In asking for a dismissal of the charge before no prima facie case had been established, Mr. McKenna said Inspector Ginn “has the colossal nerve to come here in court and waste everyone’s time because he is too lazy to do his job and see whether there is a license, after breaking into the house where he has no right. There is negligence on his part and the departments both. He makes no attempt to check with me. He admits he does not know if there is one or not. He was so sloppy in his work he could not find a record of it at the post office, in spite of the fact that it was issued before that. I don’t know where he gets his authority, or whether he thinks he is a little tin god, but he goes to an employee of mine and says ‘I am going into this house’.” Anybody in authority could have shown him that license, but because she cannot produce it he summons me to court. This is the worst case of injustice I have heard of.”

 

Letter to the editor – November 13, 1947

Some time ago your newspaper carried a story concerning radio inspectors summoning to court people who already were in possession of licenses because they did not do their jobs thoroughly. This Sussex case was not the only time the radio inspectors have been lax in their duty.

 

During illness of my wife, who was in hospital in Saint John, one of my daughters came home to keep house. A radio inspector called, I was out and my daughter explained the circumstances to him and said she was quite certain a radio license had been purchased in Norton. The inspector said it was all right, he would check at Bloomfield. My daughter repeated the license would have been bought at Norton. He said he would look it up or returned later. We heard nothing more of the matter until, just after my wife returned from hospital, she answered the door and was presented with a court summons. Still weakened from her illness, the presentation of a summons was a severe shock to her.

 

When I appeared before Magistrate Kelly in Hampton, I showed him a radio license dated April 27, 1947, which I had purchased at Norton. The case was dismissed.

 

I might add that a neighbour, who also had a license he had purchase at Norton, was forced to make the unnecessary trip to Hampton at the same time. The charge against him also was dismissed.

 

It seems to me there should be some action taken by the department concerned to end this inefficiency by the radio inspectors. Personally I resent bitterly being forced to attend a police court when, by being a little more careful, the radio inspector could have ascertained I held the necessary license.

 

James Neales, Bloomfield

 

Letter to the editor – Nov. 20, 1947

I, too, wish to publicly register a complaint against the present method of inspecting radio licenses and the totally unnecessary summoning of respectable and innocent citizens to appear in court.

 

On a very hot day in August, I was busy in my garden when a car drew up and a man introduced himself as a radio license inspector and asked to see our license. Knowing that a member of the family had purchased our license from an office friend in Saint John, I told the inspector that I would have to take a few minutes to look this up, but would be glad if he would wait. He asked me if I could give him the name and business address of the purchaser, which I did. He did not wait, but asked me to notify the village post office when I found the license. He also said he would check the city address.

 

Ten minutes after he left, I found the license and immediately telephoned the postmaster, giving him the license number and date of purchase. From what I have since learned, the inspector neither called at the post office nor did he check the Saint John address.

 

Ten days ago, to our amazement and extreme annoyance, we were served with a summons to appear in the Hampton court. Circumstances were such that no member of the family could attend, and again the number of the license and date of purchase was given to an official, along with a few well-chosen words on the subject of such careless and high-handed methods.

 

Why does this man hold the position of license inspector? It seem to me that some veteran who could be courteous and conscientious should have the job. Law abiding citizens need not and should not be subject to this sort of thing.

 

Indignant, Hampton Village.

 

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