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Oral Answers to Questions — DR. Adams (Trial)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th April 1957.

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Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley 12:00 am, 15th April 1957

asked the Attorney-General whether he will institute an independent inquiry into the preparation, organisation, and conduct of the prosecution's case against Dr. Adams, who was recently acquitted at the Old Bailey on a charge of murder, excepting the proceedings in court.

Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley

Is the Attorney-General quite unaware that, throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles, the recent case of Dr. Adams has evoked discussion in terms which bring discredit upon the law and upon his office— [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."]— upon the law and in his office? Will he not, therefore, in the interests of British justice, have an inquiry into this case, into the circumstances in which the prosecution was brought, and also into the circumstances in which the Attorney-General found it necessary to oppose the application of the defence that preliminary proceedings should be held in camera?

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Northamptonshire South

The hon. Gentleman is misinformed. Counsel appearing for the Crown in the preliminary proceedings made it perfectly clear that he did not oppose the application that certain evidence should be heard in camera. The hon. Gentleman is equally misinformed, in my belief, about the other matters, and I have nothing to add.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

I beg the right hon. and learned Gentleman not to underestimate the public anxiety there is about this case. In view of the widespread misgivings, could he give the House an assurance that the widespread rumours that the prosecution was launched against the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Chief Constable of Eastbourne are quite unfounded?

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Northamptonshire South

I can, certainly. I am glad to have an opportunity of repudiating some rumours which have been maliciously circulated. There has been no disagreement between the Director of Public Prosecutions and myself as to the course which should be pursued in this case.

Photo of Sir Lionel Heald Sir Lionel Heald , Chertsey

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the statement made by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) appeared in a weekly publication, which I will not dignify by naming in this House, and is it not most undesirable that statements of that kind should be made, without verification? Does my right hon. and learned Friend realise that there is widespread indignation at the unfair personal attacks which have been made upon him?

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Northamptonshire South

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for what he has said. Many attacks have been made upon me; that is, perhaps, to be expected. Whether they are well founded or not is another matter. I am glad to have an opportunity here and now of putting an end, I hope, to criticisms of my learned friend who conducted the case in the magistrates' court, who did not oppose the application that certain evidence should be heard in camera.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

I am sure the Attorney-General appreciates that we all very much welcome the statements which he has made at the Box today, but will he bear in mind the deep public anxiety there is about certain aspects of this case? I am sure he is well aware of them, as we all are, and I will mention just one. He appreciates, I am sure, as we all do, the terrifying consequences which might have ensued if certain documents were not available at the trial. I will not go into the matter further. Is it not desirable to have an independent inquiry into these matters so that public concern about them should be allayed and the matter dealt with in one way or another?

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Northamptonshire South

I appreciate that there is a certain concern in certain quarters, but I do not accept the hon. and learned's Gentlemans' view that there is public concern about, for instance, where those nurses' reports came from. Nor do I accept his view as to the possible consequences if those reports had not been available, in view of the observations made by the learned judge at the trial.

Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's reply, I beg to give notice that I shall take the earliest opportunity open to me of raising the matter on the Adjournment of the House.