HC Deb 15 June 1891 vol 354 cc393-4
MR. SUMMERS (Huddersfield)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he has taken, or intends to take, any action with regard to the person or persons who, in the case of "Sir William Gordon-Cumming v. Wilson and others," were alleged to have broken, or to have been parties to the breach of, the Regulation of Her Majesty's Army, which provides that— Every Commissioned Officer of Her Majesty's Service, whose character or conduct as an Officer and gentleman has been publicly impugned, must submit the case within a reasonable time to his Commanding Officer, or other competent Military Authority, for in-vestigation.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle

Any hon. Member who examines the Regulation in question will, I think, see that the person who chiefly broke it was Sir William Gordon-Cumming, who failed to submit his case to his Commanding Officer. Any offence committed by any other officers could only have consisted in advising or pressing him to take any other course. Of the three officers connected with this case, one, General Owen Williams, has retired from the Army, and is no longer subject to the Queen's Regulations. The other two are, undoubtedly, so subject. The Regulation in question, No. 41, had never been specially brought to the notice of H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, but now that his attention has been called to it, and that he has also looked back upon all the circumstances of the case, H. R. H. authorises me to say on his behalf that he sees that an error of judgment was committed in not requiring Sir William Gordon-Cumming at once to submit his case to his Commanding Officer in accordance with the Queen's Regulations. In this view of the case I certainly concur, but I should like to add the expression of my personal opinion that, if any one of us had unfortunately and suddenly heard that a close friend of our own—who, moreover, had gained distinction by his services to his country—had been accused of dishonourable conduct, we should naturally have hesitated before taking any course which would bring immediate and irretrievable ruin upon his whole future career. Mr. Berkeley Levett, who is in the same position, has addressed a letter to his superior officer, expressing in very proper terms his great regret at not having acted in strict accordance with Regulations. It is not proposed to take any further action in the matter.