HC Deb 28 February 1912 vol 34 cc1367-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now ascertained whether Mr. R. L. Thornton, one of the magistrates who convicted George Baker at Uckfield, in Surrey, on the 21st December, 1911, on the 27th December, 1911, called at the Home Office and personally explained that all the magistrates who formed the Court which convicted him, and the police who had investigated the matter, were con- vinced of his innocence and of the truth of the confession of the man who had confessed to the offence; if so, whether he will say how he justifies the subsequent imprisonment of George Baker till the 20th January, 1912; and whether he can now see his way to give some compensation to George Baker for his wrongful imprisonment?


No, Sir. Mr. Thornton called at the Home Office on the 27th December, and directed attention to the facts of the case; but he made no statement that the magistrates who heard the case were convinced of the prisoner's innocence, and both then and in his subsequent reports he suggested strong reasons for believing that he was rightly identified. After the conviction of the man who had confessed, Mr. Thornton reported to me that, while one of the magistrates who heard the case believed Baker to be innocent, the other two still thought he was guilty. Until the 19th January I had nothing before me to justify my advising any remission of the sentence, and it is quite impossible for me, in view of all the circumstances, to recommend the case to the Treasury as one deserving of compensation.