Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


The Sedition Trials, 8 April 1916

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In October 1915 John Maclean was arrested for the first time under the Defence of the Realm Act 1915 (DORA) and charged with uttering statements calculated to prejudice recruiting. Maclean was found guilty and fined 5, but he declined to pay the fine and instead was sentenced to five days' imprisonment. His conviction was immediately followed by his dismissal from his post as a teacher by the Govan Board of Education.

On his release from prison, Maclean continued with his anti-war agitation and in February 1916 was again arrested under DORA and charged with six separate offences of sedition in relation to anti-conscription speeches he had made at open air meetings throughout the Clydeside region during January 1916. On April 11th Maclean was found guilty on four of the charges brought against him and sentenced to three years' penal servitude.

However, massive agitation on his behalf forced his release from prison on 30th June 1917, having served 14 months and 22 days of his three year sentence. On his release John Maclean immediately resumes his anti-war campaigning.