HC Deb 07 January 1913 vol 46 cc1005-6
64. Mr. HOHLER

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in refusing to advise a respite in the case of the boy William Beal, who was executed at Chelmsford on 10th December ultimo for the murder of his sweetheart, after a strong recommendation to mercy on the part of the jury who tried him, he had placed before him an unsworn statement purporting to be made by a girl named Lily Bonner; whether he was aware that such statement was handed to the prosecution just as the trial was begin- ning, and that the girl was not called as a witness at the trial; and whether such statement contained a passage to the effect that it was made by Bonner for the purpose of making matters worse for Beal; and will he state whether it is the practice at the Home Office to receive statements of persons who might have been called as witnesses at the trial, and which are adverse to the prisoner, when considering the case with a view to advise the Crown whether the prerogative of mercy should or should not be exercised?


The answer to the first three parts of the question is in the affirmative. My attention was called to this statement by the learned judge, but it did not affect my decision. The answer to the fourth part of the question is that the Home Secretary, in advising on the exercise of the prerogative, is not bound by any rules as to the admission or exclusion of evidence, and all statements for or against a prisoner that are submitted to him are considered for what they are worth. In the great majority of cases such statements tell in favour of the prisoner.