HC Deb 09 July 1953 vol 517 cc1477-8
39. Mr. Marlowe

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent the prisoner Christie now under sentence of death has been allowed, since his conviction, to communicate with representatives of any newspaper or with any persons other than officials and his legal advisers.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The prisoner Christie has not been allowed since his conviction to communicate with newspaper representatives and until yesterday had had no visits except from his legal advisers. He has written only one letter, which was not in any way concerned with publicity.

Mr. Marlowe

Is my hon. Friend aware that on Wednesday of last week the "News Chronicle" published a purported statement, or a confession, which they said had been made by Christie—to a prison official, they said? Without trespassing on the inquiry now going on, may I ask if my hon. Friend has any reason to suppose that Christie has had any communication with the Press, or that such a statement as was made by the "News Chronicle" could be well-founded?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The answer I have given is the truth and the whole truth in this connection. Although I am aware of the statement to which my hon. and learned Friend refers, I am not in a position to speculate on how it came about.

Mr. J. T. Price

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that last Sunday the "Sunday Pictorial" published a long article which was advertised as being the first of a series of articles purporting to be the personal confessions of Christie, and that the paper has gone so far as to publish a facsimile copy of his handwriting purporting to prove that these are genuine and authentic articles? Will the hon. Gentleman say now, or if he is unable to say now will he inquire, on what terms this newspaper has obtained possession of these alleged confessions; because it is a serious matter in the opinion of many hon. Members of this House that a newspaper should interfere with the course of justice whether by paying for the defence on conditions, or in any other way?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I can only repeat what I have already said. The prisoner Christie has had no visits, except from his legal advisers, since the date of his conviction.

Mr. G. R. Howard

Can my hon. Friend say whether it would be possible for legal advisers to act as intermediaries for the Press?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

My hon. Friend must form his own opinion on that matter.