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Rhodesia (Bingham Report)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th December 1979.

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Photo of Mr Michael Havers Mr Michael Havers , Wimbledon 12:00 am, 19th December 1979

The hon. and learned Gentleman asks why the matter would take four years. A huge amount of investigation would be necessary. Let us take, for example, Shell Mocambique. If one were to try to prove the movement of particular wagons of oil from Mozambique to Rhodesia it would be necessary to have the freight tickets and perhaps necessary to call some of the railwaymen. There is no power to enforce either the production of those documents or the attendance of those witnesses. I did tell the House in my statement that as a result of a request of the Director in April this year 14,000 files were obtained from the two oil companies. We are told that the number of documents in those files probably exceed a quarter of a million papers. All would have to be looked at.

Any lawyer in this House knows that the prosecution could not possibly go into court without having to consider, with a large team of lawyers and police officers, every one of those quarter of a million documents. It would simply not be right not to do that. That is only one of the grounds. I remind the House that the reasons that prompted the Director to come to the conclusion that he reached were the well known and recognised procedures involving the public interest aspect in prosecutions.