W. Comer Petheram, C.J.
1. The whole question which has been raised by this objection turns upon the construction to be placed upon the language of Section 499 of the Penal Code. That section creates the criminal offence of defamation, and whoever is guilty of the offence as therein defined, is liable to punishment in the public interests. The question of guilt is for the jury to consider, who must have before them all the evidence, and who must consider it without reference to the interests of any other person than the public and the prisoner. The words of Section 499 are as follows: 'Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs, or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person, intending to harm, or knowing, or having reason to believe, that such imputation will harm the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.'
2. The question here is whether, with reference to these words alone, and apart from the rest of the section, Captain Hearsey intended to harm the reputation of Mr. Laidman. Before this question can be answered, it is essential to see what Mr. Laidman's reputation is, and, moreover, Mr. Ross puts the case for the prosecution on the ground that Captain Hearsay acted with a malicious intention to injure the complainant by telling a falsehood, and not with a genuine intention to furnish proper information to the public. Upon this issue, it must be material to ascertain whether Captain Hearsay, in his letter as a whole, was telling the truth or not.
3. For these reasons I rule that this evidence is admissible, that is to say, first, because it relates to the question what is the reputation which the defendant is said to have harmed; and secondly, because it must be gathered from the document as a whole whether it shows a malicious intention or not. I decline to reserve the point for the Full Court, being of opinion that to do so would not serve the interests of either party.