Oral Answers to Questions — Child Cruelty (Member's Letter)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon 12:00 am, 31st July 1952

asked the Secretary of State for the 1-Tome Department when the hon. Member for Maldon may expect a reply to his letter of 27th June, concerning the alleged ill-treatment of a four-year-old child.

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

I am informed that the welfare of the child is a matter of which the High Court is taking cognisance. I am satisfied that no action on my part is called for, but I am awaiting fuller information regarding certain recent proceedings before replying to the hon. Member.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

While I appreciate the difficulty of the right hon. and learned Gentleman in that a case is, I think, still sub judice, may I ask him if he, in turn, appreciates the difficulty that if there is prima facie evidence of cruelty—he has seen the affidavits—it is surely intolerable that a child should be exposed to continuing cruelty because of the otherwise perfectly proper sub judice inhibition?

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

On receipt of the hon. Gentleman's letter I referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider whether there was evidence of a criminal offence. I have seen all the statements in this matter, but the hon. Gentleman will appreciate the difficulty that I am in, in view of the fact that the new statements were among those considered by the High Court at the recent hearing, which was concluded on 17th July, and that an injunction was granted against the hon. Member's correspondent last year to restrain him from making further defamatory statements regarding the other party to the case. The High Court has arranged for a welfare officer to visit the child weekly, and the officer has reported that all is well.