16. EARL of RONALDSHAY
asked how many of the twenty ringleaders of the German spy organisation who were taken up at or about the beginning of the War have been tried; have they been tried by court-martial; and what sentences have been given?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
One of them who claimed to be a British subject was tried for an offence under the Official Secrets Act, and was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude. The others are being held in prison. They could not be tried by court-martial, as their offences were committed in time of peace, and before the passing of the Defence of the Realm Act.
EARL of RONALDSHAY
Are we to understand that these men cannot be tried, and that they are only to be detained in prison?
§ Mr. McKENNA
They can be tried, but it is our duty to have primary regard to British interests. We conceive that a public trial at this time would be of no advantage. These men are now being held in prison, and the result of their trial could not be otherwise.