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But it was not as if he assaulted a member of the staff in the course of his duty or the opportunities of his duty. He became friendly with a member of the staff and, as a result, gained access to her home and met her son. But that is a different matter from acting in the course of his duty. One might as well say that if he had fallen in love with a lady on the staff and seduced her or promised to marry her and had not kept his promise and she had had a nervous breakdown, the Inland Revenue would be responsible for that. I could not accept that principle. It is only for actions arising out of and in the course of the employment of the inspector for which the Inland Revenue ought to have responsibility.
In those circumstances, I could not feel justified in advising the expenditure of public money.
I do not want to go into the details of the lady's health, any more than did the hon. Gentleman. It is clear, in my judgment, that no responsibility falls upon the Inland Revenue in these circumstances.
I think that the Inland Revenue has a moral responsibility to try and help the lady over her disturbed period, because she was an employee of the Inland Revenue. Having investigated the case, I am satisfied that the Inland Revenue has been to extreme lengths of consideration—and I do not blame the lady, because she was not well—in its desire to help her retain her employment, but it became clear that, for one reason or another, her health would not permit it.
I am sure that the Inland Revenue behaved rightly. It had to accept the decision of the court in spirit as well as in law. It has no obligation to compensate the lady. It had an obligation, which it discharged to the full. to give her great consideration after this unfortunate and criminal incident in an effort to help her return to work in the normal way. Unhappily, because of her condition, that was not possible. But I think that the Inland Revenue made every attempt which could reasonably be expected of it.
I regret having to give a disappointing reply to the hon. Gentleman. I am afraid that I cannot go along with him on either of his two points, though I renew my expression of sympathy to the lady concerned and my deep regret that the incident ever occurred.