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Bull's Eye on Bobby Mr Bull (takes policeman's lantern): 'Thank You. I'll just have a look round myself. Strikes me the premises ain't as clean as they might be!'

Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914)


Signed with monogram


8 ¼ x 6 ¼ inches

Punch, 25 August 1877, Page 79

'The Illustrators. The British Art of Illustration 1870-2021', Chris Beetles Gallery, November 2021-January 2022, No 4

In April 1877, two conmen, Harry Benson and William Kurr, went on trial in London accused of defrauding several wealthy Parisians out of thousands of pounds through a scam involving horse racing betting. The scam came to light when the banker of one of the victims, Madame de Goncourt, became suspicious that his client was requesting £30,000 to put on a wager on behalf of an unknown man in England, and informed Scotland Yard. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Benson and Kurr, but the pair had already disappeared. To the bemusement of the newspapers over the following weeks and months, they continued to evade capture, always seeming to be one step ahead and aware of the next move the law would make. Eventually, the two men were apprehended and at the trial, Benson was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Kurr sentenced to 10 years.

What came to light during the trial of Benson and Kurr was a scandal that shocked the British public. It was revealed that the two men had evaded capture for so long because an Inspector at Scotland Yard, John Meiklejohn, had been taking bribes to feed the men information about the case and help them escape arrest. Further investigation into Meiklejohn revealed that several other senior-ranked members of Scotland Yard’s Detective Department were implicated in taking bribes and aiding criminals. Dubbed the Turf Fraud Scandal, this level of corruption in the highest ranks at Scotland Yard caused a sensation in the British Press.

On 25 October 1877, John Meiklejohn, along with Detective Chief Inspectors William Palmer, Nathaniel Druscovich and George Clarke, and a solicitor named Edward Froggat, went on trial at the Old Bailey. That John Tenniel’s cartoon, showing John Bull shining his lantern accusatorily at a policeman, was published two months before the trial took place indicates how long this story held the public’s interest. The trial ended on 19 November 1877. Meiklejohn, Palmer, Druscovich and Froggat were found guilty and sentenced each to two years hard labour. Clarke was acquitted, though the scandal ended his career.

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