HC Deb 03 February 1954 vol 523 cc331-2
2. Major Anstruther-Gray

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been drawn to a recent case of a man twice convicted in a civil court being accepted into the commissioned ranks of the Royal Air Force; and whether he will see that proper steps are taken to check up on the antecedents of such persons

7. Mr. Finlay

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that a recent court-martial on a Royal Air Force officer disclosed that this officer had been granted Her Majesty's commission despite two previous convictions in a civil court, including one for bigamy at Liverpool Assizes in 1940 when he was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment; and what steps he is taking to prevent similar occurrences arising.

The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)

Inquiries are made about the antecedents of all candidates for commissions. Before the officer whom, I think, my hon. Friends have in mind was accepted for a short service commission in 1951, the usual inquiries were put in train, but his criminal record was not discovered. It is impossible at this point of time to establish where the responsibility for this lies, but I am satisfied that the mistake was due to human error and not to a fault in the system.

Major Anstruther-Gray

Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that this is not likely to occur again?

Mr. Ward

Any system is apt to slip up occasionally, but we have made certain improvements within the Air Ministry which should help to insure against its happening again.

Mr. Finlay

Can my hon. Friend say what the system is if it is not going to slip up again?

Mr. Ward

The system is mainly checking with the Criminal Record Office at New Scotland Yard.