HC Deb 04 November 1965 vol 718 cc1203-4
6. Mrs. Butler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that everything possible has now been done to establish the true facts of the Challenor case, that justice has been done to everyone involved, and that action has been taken to prevent such cases arising in the future; and if he will make a statement.

26. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the James Report.

Sir F. Soskice

I have now had an opportunity of considering the report prepared by Mr. Justice James and I fully accept the conclusions he has reached, and am satisfied that no further inquiry is necessary. As the House is aware Mr. Justice James found that no one was to blame for the circumstances in which Detective Sergeant Challenor continued on duty for some three months after the onset of a serious mental illness, and he also examined and rejected a number of allegations made against Sergeant Challenor and various other police officers. Some of these allegations he found to have been inspired by malice. He made recommendations for changes in procedure to avoid the risk of recurrence of cases like the Challenor case and the Commissioner informs me that full effect has been given to his recommendations. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking Mr. Justice James for the great care and labour he expended in producing this very valuable and exhaustive report and also Mr. Good-child for producing a full and thorough report on other aspects of the case.

Mrs. Butler

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that a number of the 26 allegations have not been publicly examined, that the James Report leaves many important questions unanswered, and that we still have no proposals for preventing a continuation of improper practices at the West End Central Police Station? Will he please arrange for a full debate in this House on the whole subject, which has been tackled very casually so far, and also arrange for the release of the three officers who appear to have been made scapegoats in the Challenor case?

Sir F. Soskice

The question of a debate is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. With regard to the officers who are at present in prison, I did carefully and anxiously consider that, and I ascertained from the learned judges who dealt with that case that the circumstances in mitigation, namely, that they were perhaps to some extent under the influence of Detective Sergeant Challenor, were taken fully into account when the sentences were imposed. It was a difficult decision, but I came to the conclusion that in all the circumstances I would not be justified in recommending an exercise of the Royal Prerogative.

With regard to the first part of my hon. Friend's Question, there was, after all, first the full investigation by Mr. du Rose, then there was a very full investigation, running into hundreds of pages, by Mr. Goodchild, and now we have had a final investigation, which is limited to one aspect of the case, by Mr. Justice James. I cannot think that there are any aspects of the case which have not been fully covered by the three gentlemen who conducted these investigations.

Mr. Lubbock

Does not the length of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's answer to that supplementary question indicate the need for a full debate on the James Report, and will he consider making representations on this subject to his right hon. Friend the Leader of the House? Secondly, may I ask what proposals he has to make for paying compensation to the people who were affected by the Challenor case?

Sir F. Soskice

I certainly will bring what the hon. Gentleman has said to my right hon. Friend's notice. With regard to the last part of his question, I have no further proposals.