An article from the Scarborough's Mercury 24th December 1914 entitled "SPREADING FALSE REPORTS - SCARBRO MAN CHARGED UNDER DEFENCE OF THE REALM ACT"
At the Borough Police Court this (Thursday) morning, before Alderman V Flower in the chair, James Gagen, tripe dresser, 10 Sandringham Street, was charged with spreading a false report contrary to Regulation 27 made on the 28th November, 1914, under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914.
On the advice of the magistrates Gagen pleaded not guilty.
The Chief Constable, in outlining the case, said a Miss Edmunds went into prisoner's shop at Falsgrave Road, and overheard a conversation between prisoner and another man. The man said something to Gagen, and Miss Edmunds made the remark "is that the Germans?" Gagen said yes.
They say German ships are at Hull and Newcastle, and they are coming to Scarborough. Miss Edmund asked if they had done any damage, and Gagen said, "No, not yet."
Later on in the evening, the Chief Constable continued, a widow named Mrs. Murdy went into the defendants shop, and Gagen said "What about the Germans?"
Mrs. Murdy said "What about the Germans?" To which question Gagen said "German ships were sighted off Hull and Newcastle, and our ships dare not go out to fight them." He said we would have to take pot luck, as there was not a ship in the bay.
These statements , the Chief Constable said, were greatly harassing to the population. Such reports have been made during the last week, and he had brought this case as an example.
The defendant was a respectable tradesman, and this case had been brought in order to make it known, that he determined that any person who was caught spreading such reports, and causing fear and panic amongst the population, would be dealt with in a similar way. It was idle gossip, and foolishness, and at the present time it was a criminal offence.
He (the Chief Constable) had been in communication with Col. Smithson, the military authority, who wished him to be tried by that court, although he had the power to order a court martial, in which case he was liable to be sentenced to penal servitude for life, or now he was liable to be fined £100 or six months' imprisonment.
Both Miss. Edmunds and Mrs. Mundy gave corrobarative evidence.
The Chairman said the magistrates would take a lenient view. It was dangerous to spread these reports. He hoped it would be a lesson to him or anyone else. The Chief Constable was determined to put these false reports down, and the next case would be dealt with very seriously.
He was discharged.