HC Deb 20 April 1939 vol 346 c501
57. Mr. R. C. Morrison

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the action of a police wit ness at Bootle who wore a mask while giving evidence in a betting case, and to the statement afterwards made by the chief constable that in this matter Bootle was merely following other towns; and whether he will issue instructions to all police forces to discontinue this practice?

Sir S. Hoare

I am not aware that any such practice is general in the police forces of this country, and I do not think that any circular on this subject is necessary. As regards the particular incident at Bootle, I have obtained a report from the chief constable, who informs me that this special procedure was allowed because if the witnesses had been identified by certain persons present among the audience in the court they might have been in danger of personal violence. I realise the objections if this practice were commonly adopted, and I am in further consultation with the chief constable on the subject.

Mr. Silverman

Was any evidence tendered to the court that these witnesses might be subject to personal violence?

Sir S. Hoare

I could not say without notice.