HC Deb 27 July 1960 vol 627 cc1639-40
30. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Secretary of State for Air in what circumstances an American schoolmaster was recently removed by force from the married quarters attached to the Royal Air Force Station, Finningley.

31. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Air why William Fitzgibbon was dragged along the ground by Royal Air Force police at Finningley on 24th July; why he and Ronald Taylor were photographed by Royal Air Force police; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. W. J. Taylor

Mr. Fitzgibbon and Mr. Taylor, together with several others, entered Air Ministry property at Finningley on Sunday last with the declared intention of preparing the way for a demonstration to take place next week-end. They were asked to leave, but Mr. Fitzgibbon persisted in refusing to do so. After ample warning he was removed by R.A.F. police as a trespasser. No unnecessary force was used. Two photographs were taken before any incident occurred, simply as a precaution in case anything serious developed which might need further investigation.

Mr. de Freitas

Since tradesmen and political parties are allowed to deliver literature to these married quarters, is it not very stupid of the Royal Air Force to go out of its way to make a martyr of this man?

Mr. Taylor

This was not normal commercial or political canvassing. It was action following up a threat of demonstrations of a type which have in the past taken the form of serious interference with work at Royal Air Force stations. The station commander felt bound to try to make the position clear before matters could possibly get out of hand.

Mr. Allaun

But is it not seriously wrong that a man offering no violent resistance should be dragged by his feet along rough asphalt, during which process his shirt slipped over his shoulders so that his back was cut, requiring hospital treatment? Even if his removal were justified—which I question—why could he not have been carried?

Mr. Taylor

He was being carried but he wriggled.

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