HC Deb 04 February 1947 vol 432 cc1560-2
29. Mr. McGovern

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has considered the letter of Mrs. Susan Campbell, 64, Sunnybank Street, Glasgow, which has been sent to him complaining that on four occasions after midnight the police have called at this house and compelled John Campbell to go to the police office as a deserter; that John Campbell was detained for 12 months without trial and ultimately discharged; that on 14th December an inspector, two sergeants and two constables arrived with a warrant to arrest every man in the house; that Mr. Johnson, a visitor, protested, was arrested, kicked and dragged from the house; that Mr. Campbell and his brother were arrested and maltreated; and if he will hold an inquiry into all the circumstances.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)

To deal fully with the points raised in the Question necessitates a somewhat long answer, and I propose, therefore, with the hon. Member's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. McGovern

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the inquiry was held by the police, against whom the allegations were made, or was it made through some independent source?

Mr. Westwood

It was made through the Procurator Fiscal in an endeavour to get all the facts in this case, and if the hon. Gentleman, after reading the statement which will be in the OFFICIAL REPORT, has any further point to raise, I shall be only too pleased to deal with it, and to see that fair play applies all round.

Following is the statement;

The allegations made in Mrs. Campbell's letter have been investigated and the facts are as follow:

Since 1941 the police have on various occasions called at Mrs. Campbell's house in connection with the desertion of two of her sons from the Armed Forces and have sometimes found it necessary to take some of the sons, to the police office because of their indiscriminate use of identity documents. There have been only two police visits after midnight, one in January, 1946, to execute a warrant for the arrest of John Campbell on charges of breach of the peace and assault, and the other about I am, on 15th December, 1946, for the purpose of making inquiries about Joseph Campbell, a deserter from the Armed Forces. The December visit was made by two sergeants, and two constables were detailed to watch the outside of the house. The police did not arrive with a van, did not have warrants for arrest, and did not say that they had such warrants.

In the course of their inquiries, the sergeants discovered that John Campbell had an identity card and a ration book with different registration numbers, and decided to take him to the police office to have the matter cleared up. John Campbell was not taken from his bed, did not produce any medical certificate to the police officers, and had, in fact, been up and about for some days prior to the police visit. Meanwhile Frank Johnston who was in the house incited a collie dog to attack a sergeant, kicked the other sergeant, and tripped and kicked a constable who, on hearing the disturbance, had come into the house. In view of Johnston's violence a police van was sent for, and a police inspector on seeing the van at the house went there to find out what was happening. At this stage, James Campbell arrived, refused to answer questions about his identity, and was taken along with John Campbell and Frank Johnston to the police office. The two Campbells returned to their home after the police had satisfied themselves that James was not the deserter they were looking for, and that John's explanation of the possession of discrepant ration and identity documents was a proper one. Johnston was detained on a charge of assaulting three of the police officers. He pled guilty to the charge on 18th December, admitted a previous conviction for assault, and was sentenced to 60 days imprisonment.

So far as the criminal authorities are concerned, no foundation has been found for the allegation that John Campbell was at some stage in his career detained for 12 months without trial. As regards the allegation that the two Campbells and Johnston were maltreated and assaulted by the police during the December occurrence, this has been the subject of careful inquiry by Crown counsel who are satisfied that there is no evidence which would justify the institution of proceedings against the police.

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