HC Deb 14 August 1940 vol 364 cc777-8
72. Mr. Stokes

asked the Secretary of State for War why Major A. D. Wintle, M.C., Royal Dragoons, was confined to the Tower of London on 22nd June, but no charge was preferred against him until 7th August?

Sir E. Grigg

Instructions were sent from the War Office to Western Command on 20th June that Major Wintle was to be placed under close arrest charged under Section 41 of the Army Act with committing a civil offence, that is to say, assault. Major Wintle was arrested on 21st June, and was informed that he was charged under Section 41 of the Army Act with committing a civil offence. He was brought to London and was informed on 23rd June that the civil charge would be one of assault. As the result of investigation, the Department of the Judge Advocate-General advised that certain new charges should be added. These involved the collection of statements from other officers and took a little time. Major Wintle was furnished with the complete charge-sheet and abstract of evidence on 7th August. The court-martial had been provisionally summoned for 12th August. On 9th August it was postponed till 19th August and later till 26th August, at Major Wintle's request. The new charges are of feigning infirmity and of conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline. I should add that Major Wintle's personal courage has never been in question. The charges relate entirely to grave breaches of discipline.

Mr. Stokes

Is the hon. Gentleman really sure that the charge was presented to Major Wintle, as he seems to have been entirely unaware of it? Further, is he aware that Major Wintle has suffered from a defect of the eye for a long time, and that to say otherwise is not fair to the man?

Sir E. Grigg

With regard to the first part of the question, I am quite satisfied that the information was given to him as stated. As to the second part of the question, as the charge is sub judice, I think I had better not deal with it.