§ MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to a public statement, alleged to have been made on 18th December last, by a British officer recently returned from South Africa, to which publicity was given but no contradiction, that while in charge of some Boer prisoners at Graspan, a lot of innocent Dutchmen came in Cape carts to see their friends and relations, that he let them all come in but did not let any out, and that they went to St. Helena with the rest; and whether he will take steps publicly to contradict such a statement or otherwise deal with the alleged author of it.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
My attention was called to this statement a few days ago, and I at once asked for an explanation. The officer in question states that as a fact, when in charge of the Boer prisoners at Graspan, a Boer ambulance being near, a number of Boers, fully armed, came up, and seizing red cross badges put them on and said they were doctors. They were examined by the Provost-Marshal, and were found equally inaccurate in respect of their names and professions, they being in each particular contradicted by the true members of the ambulance. They were consequently retained as prisoners. The officer in question, in speaking of them as innocent, explains that he spoke ironically, and no doubt the fact that he spoke after dinner prevented his being over cautious in his choice of language. He has been warned to be more careful.