HC Deb 04 April 1963 vol 675 cc624-6
36. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, when he first considered Chief Anthony Enahoro's request for political asylum in Great Britain, he was in possession of a copy of the affidavit submitted by Crown counsel to the British courts concerning the charges being made against the Chief and the penalties attached thereto.

Mr. H. Brooke

Yes, Sir. This affidavit formed part of the documents which were submitted to the magistrate at Bow Street and were before both the Divisional Court and the Appeal Committee of the House of Lords when they considered the case. It was sent to me, with the other papers, after the case had been disposed of by the courts. A copy was also included among the documents appended to Chief Enahoro's request to me to be allowed to stay in this country.

Mr. Swingler

That being so, and since it is said quite clearly on page 3 of the affidavit that count two of the charges against Chief Enahoro carries the death penalty, why did the Home Secretary suggest that his only source of information on the subject was the Nigerian High Commissioner who had assured him that there was no death penalty connected with the charge against Chief Enahoro, quite contrary to the affidavit submitted to the courts by the Nigerian Government themselves?

Mr. Brooke

No, Sir. The hon. Gentleman is completely misinformed about the contents of this affidavit. There is no reference in the affidavit to the death penalty being a penalty for any of the charges on which Chief Enahoro's return was sought. If there had been, I have no doubt that counsel for Enahoro would have raised the matter in the Divisional Court when he was seeking to persuade the Lord Chief Justice that it would be too severe a punishment to return him to Nigeria.

Mr. Turton

Has my right hon. Friend referred to the previous treason trial in Nigeria in which Mr. Tarka was charged in 1961 with a number of offences, including conspiracy to commit treason? If so, has he noted that it was made clear in the course of those proceedings that that charge carried the death penalty?

Mr. Brooke

What I can say with assurance—and I am sure that the Attorney-General would confirm this—is that the charges on which Chief Enahoro's return to Nigeria was sought do not carry the death penalty.

Mr Wade

When will the right hon. Gentleman be making a statement on Chief Enahoro's request for political asylum? Is it not highly desirable that there should be a final decision on this as quickly as possible?

Mr. Brooke

Yes, Sir, but it is not for me to announce the future business of the House.

Mr. Fletcher

In coming to his original decision, should not the Home Secretary have noticed that, in view of the contents of the affidavit filed at the magistrates' court, there were charges in Nigeria which might involve the death sentence? In view of that possibility, should not the Home Secretary have taken that into account, and should not he have come to the conclusion that, in those circumstances, this man should not be sent back?

Mr. Brooke

No, Sir. I took everything which was before me into account, and I reached the same conclusion about the risk of Chief Enahoro being liable to the death penalty as his counsel in the British courts apparently reached.

Mr. D. Smith

Has my right hon. Friend yet seen a document which arrived from Nigeria today from the leading defence counsel in the treason trial, Mr. Akintoye, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and various other right hon. Members, and in which he puts forward a reasoned argument that Chief Enahoro certainly faces the death penalty on count two? If my right hon. Friend has seen it, will he bear it in mind? Does not he feel that, after three temporary reprieves, justice would now be done if this man were set free?

Mr. Brooke

I have not seen that document. I think that questions on the legal interpretation of the affidavit should be put to the Attorney-General.

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