LOOK BACK IN TIME: 29 June 1918

With the election to be held next Thursday, the Isle of Wight Observer published on 29th June 1918 demonstrates that concerns about people that should not be in the UK are nothing new!


Edward Bursell, 11a Vicarage Lane, Ilford, was summoned for making a false statement on his arrival at the Pier Head, on the 15th inst, Defendant pleaded not guilty.

Special Constable Gustav Mullins said about 7 p.m. on the date named, he was acting as Aliens officers at Ryde Pier. The defendant was among other passengers from Portsmouth, and witness asked him his nationality. Defendant replied “German” and witness detained him. Defendant then said he was only joking. Witness asked him to stand on one side, but it was with some difficulty that he could get him to do so, as he tried to push his way through other passengers. Defendant afterwards produced his business card and calling up papers. from which witness obtained his name and address.

Defendant said he should like to know if Gustav Mullins was a British subject.

Witness said that he was, and that he was born in Jersey.

The Chairman said it did not affect the case whether the witness was a British subject or not.


Defendant said he had been unwell, having an operation to be faced, and he came to the Island to see his wife and child who were staying at Sandown. When asked his nationality he said, “London,” and before he could say anything else he was seized as a Hun would seize an English prisoner and forced to one side. He told the witness that he said “London,” for a joke, that he could shoot him, if he liked, but he didn’t want to miss his train. He never said anything about being a German.


He had travelled in France and all over England, and now this man had deliberately tried to ruin his reputation by telling lies – unless he was deaf – by bringing forward this trumped up charge. It was only one man’s word against another’s, and he asked for the protection of the Court. He supposed he was there because he told the witness that he had no sense of humour.

The Chief Constable said that Mr Mullins had acted as Aliens officer for some time: he had never brought a case before, and presumably would not bring one without good reason.


The Chairman asked witness whether there was the slightest doubt, as to what the defendant said – “London” or “German.”
Witness: Not in the slightest, sir.

The Chairman said the Bench had to protect the officers on duty, and especially those gentlemen who gave their time in the service of the country.


Defendant would be fined £1 or 14 days.