HC Deb 30 May 1907 vol 175 cc77-9

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, having regard to all the circumstances of the Edalji case, including the anonymous letters, the advisers of the Government will consider the advisability of reconsidering the sentence.


I have advised the grant of a free pardon. No further interference with the sentence is within the power of the Government.


Does the right hon. Gentleman consider this man to be innocent?


I hardly think that is a proper Question to ask me. It is on a matter of opinion.

MR. YOUNGER (Ayr Burghs)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long Edalji was detained in prison, what character he bore during his incarceration, how long he was kept under surveillance after his release, and whether the surveillance was of such a character as to be prejudical to his professional prospects.


Mr. Edalji was in prison for three years after his conviction. His prison character was good. From his release in October last until the grant of a free pardon a few days ago he was under police supervision, but he was allowed to report by letter instead of personally, and there was no interference of any sort on the part of police that could be prejudicial to him.


May I ask if a free pardon means a free pardon, and whether, in the opinion of the Home Office, this gentleman is innocent or guilty?


Perhaps the hon. Member will put a Question on the Paper if he wishes a full and detailed Answer.


Will the course which the Government have taken in regard to Mr. Edalji enable the Lord Chancellor to reinstate him as a solicitor.


I do not know that the Lord Chancellor has anything to do with it.

MR. J. WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)

Will this free pardon entitle Mr. Edalji to be readmitted to the roll of solicitors?


That does not come within my province.


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will appoint a committee with the object of further considering the question of the authorship of the anonymous letters in the Edalji case; and whether the committee which has reported upon the matter had specific instructions to conduct an independent inquiry into the authorship of the letters or did conduct such an inquiry.


I asked Sir Arthur Wilson and his colleagues to examine the whole of the material in the possession of the Home Office and give me their opinion on the case. In their Report they say: "We have ourselves carefully examined the letters and compared them with the admitted hand-writing of Edalji." I do not propose to appoint any such committee as the hon. Member suggests.

MR. MOONEY (Newry)

asked whether, in view of the great similarity between this case and that of Sergeant Sheridan, the right hon. Gentleman would follow the precedent of the Irish case and have the police witnesses examined.

[No Answer was returned.]