HC Deb 24 June 1954 vol 529 cc580-1
34. Mr. Oliver

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he has refused to advise Her Majesty to grant a free pardon to Maurice Edwin Ekins, 45, Southville Road, Bedford, in view of the fact that this man was convicted of permitting a person to ride his motor-cycle while uninsured, an offence it was subsequently shown he did not commit and of which the Lord Chief justice said that the court regretted that they could not grant any process because, in the opinion of the court, certiorari did not lie in a case of this sort, but that it was a proper case in which the facts should be submitted to the Secretary of State; and if, in view of these circumstances, he will not reconsider his decision.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)

It would be contrary to practice to state the reasons on which a decision with regard to the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy is based. I can only say that, after making full inquiry and consulting the Lord Chief Justice, I came to the conclusion that the facts were not such as would justify me in recommending the grant of a free pardon, and I can find no reason to modify that decision. In fairness to Mr. Ekins, I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a copy of a statement made by the Chairman of the Appeal Committee of the Buckinghamshire Quarter Sessions at the meeting of that Committee on 28th December, 1953.

Mr. Oliver

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman know that, in dealing with this matter, the Lord Chief Justice said that the court regretted that it could not provide the remedy which this man sought? Having regard to the implications of that statement, and the fact that it is not only a small matter concerning the driving of an uninsured motor cycle but a question whether documents purporting to sell the machine were forged—which is a very serious matter—I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will look into this matter.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I do not want to depart from what I have said, and the statement which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT deals with that aspect of the matter. If the hon. and learned Member has any further point to make on it after he has read the statement, I shall be very glad if he will see me about it.

Following is the statement: This appeal was heard by the Committee on 31st August last. It was an appeal by Mr. Ekins against his conviction by the Stony Stratford Justices for having permitted a young man who was uninsured to ride his motor bicycle. During the course of the hearing Mr. Ekins produced two documents (a receipt and an I.O.U.) in support of his contention that he had sold the motor bicycle before the other young man rode it. It was suggested in cross-examination that those documents were not genuine, and publicity was given to the suggestion. The Committee decided that, even assuming the documents to be genuine, they did not shake their view that there was no completed sale of the machine before the other young man rode it, and that the appellant's conduct otherwise amounted to "permitting" him to ride it. Accordingly they dismissed the appeal. At the same time they gave directions that the challenged documents should be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions so that he might have further inquiries made to see whether they were genuine or not. I thought I had made it clear at the time that we were not deciding that the documents were fraudulent but that they called for further inquiry. Through some misunderstanding publicity was given to the mistaken view that we had decided that the documents were fraudulent. The further inquiries made at the instance of the Director of Public Prosecutions established that they were not fraudulent, and in justice to Mr. Ekins (the appellant) publicity should now be given to the fact that any suggestion that he had been guilty of any offence in connection with these documents has been shown to be mistaken. There is one other matter which ought to be cleared up. The only question submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions was whether further inquiries about the challenged documents would show them to be genuine or not. Most unfortunately publicity was given to the Director's words that "no criminal offence had been committed" as if they referred to the appeal in the road traffic case. Of course his decision was not referring to the road traffic offence at all, but simply to the question of whether the documents were fraudulent, and on that point, as I have already said, he found that they were not fraudulent.