HC Deb 25 February 1958 vol 583 cc193-4
36. Mr. Hannan

asked the Lord Advocate if he will order a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Alexander Wilson in a betting-shop brawl in Possilpark, Glasgow.

The Lord Advocate (Mr. W. R. Milligan)

Having read all the evidence in this case, I am not satisfied that it is expedient in the public interest that an inquiry should be held.

Mr. Hannan

Is the Lord Advocate aware of the widespread public disquiet in this area that such an incident should take place in full view of witnesses and yet no public inquiry should be held to establish the facts? Apart from the merits or demerits of the beginnings of this case, and no matter how it started, would not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider his decision and now agree that it is in the public interest and that of the police authorities that a full public inquiry should be held to establish the facts?

The Lord Advocate

Public inquiries are held in limited circumstances. I am entitled, and only entitled, to order a public inquiry in the case of a sudden or suspicious death if I think it is in the public interest to do so. Normally, the public inquiry is held with a view to clearing up some doubt or something of that nature. In the present case, on the evidence before me, I am quite satisfied that there is no reasonable doubt about the circumstances in which this man met his death.

Mr. T. Fraser

is not the learned Lord Advocate aware that, in view of the publicity given by the Press to the circumstances in which this man met his death, there is widespread public concern that there should be some inquiry into how he met his death?

Is he aware that we understand from the Press reports that this man, if he had not died, would himself have appeared in court on a charge of a disturbance of the peace or something like that, and that if someone else had died in the fight which ensued, this man would be charged with culpable homicide? Since no one has been charged with any offence as a result of the fight which took place in this betting house, and there has been no public explanation of what went on there at all, cannot the learned Lord Advocate appreciate that there is a need, in order to satisfy public concern, for him to order a public inquiry into this matter?

The Lord Advocate

I have taken into consideration all the matters suggested by the hon. Gentleman opposite, including the question that obviously there has been public concern in the neighbourhood and in Glasgow. Despite all those matters, I am satisfied that in this case it is not in the public interest to hold an inquiry.

Mr. Hannan

In view of the most unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter at an early opportunity on the Motion for the Adjournment.