HC Deb 13 July 1961 vol 644 cc571-2
24. Mr. Manuel

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Rhodesia failed to attend the hearing in the Broken Hill magistrates' court of a preliminary inquiry into the alleged responsibility of the European manager of the farm of Mr. John Roberts and of another employee for the death of Chilekwa Lufeye in April last; and if he will make a statement about this case.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The Acting Director of Public Prosecutions appeared on three occasions before the magistrate but on one day of the hearing he was engaged in the High Court and on that day he was represented by the Public Prosecutor. The Governor reports that the resident magistrate has ruled that there is a case to answer against each of the two accused on a charge of manslaughter and, as the case is consequently sub judice, I can make no statement about it.

Mr. Manuel

Is the Colonial Secretary aware that the presiding magistrate publicly criticised the non-appearance of the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions?

Further, is he aware that in the past there have been many murders and brutal attacks by farm managers on farm workers? Does he agree—I am sure he will—that the relatives of the dead man link these events with the fact that the farm is owned by an individual who is a territorial leader of the United Federal Party in the area? Does not the Secretary of State think that he should do what he can to clear this matter up in order not to worsen the feelings which are so evident in this area as a result of these conditions?

Mr. Macleod

I think that that is a very tendentious way of putting this matter. I see no reason at all why it should be linked with the politician to whom the hon. Member refers. It seems a very poor charge against the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions that he was not there on a day when the Public Prosecutor himself was. Although there may be argument about whether the matter we were discussing on Question No. 19 was sub judice, there can be no argument about this one.

Mr. Wall

As the only person named in the Question is a leader of a political party, will my right hon. Friend make it quite clear that he is in no way involved in this case and was not and is not resident on the farm in question?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, I know those two facts, but I do not want to be led into commenting on this case, in view of the discussion we had a few minutes ago.

Mr. Callaghan

All of us who know Mr. John Roberts, whatever our political views, would not believe that he would be a party to obstructing the course of justice in a matter of this sort.

Mr. Manuel rose

Hon. Members

Next Question.

Mr. Manuel

The next Question has not been called. I do not know how many Speakers there are. While I have no knowledge of Mr. John Roberts, but know that he is non-resident, I take it that legally he is responsible for the actions of the farm manager.