HC Deb 01 May 1968 vol 763 cc1107-8
54. Mr. Russell Kerr

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will institute an inquiry into the circumstances which resulted in six of Her Majesty's sailors receiving long prison sentences in Hamilton, Bermuda, recently, for alleged homosexual activity.

Mr. Foley

As soon as this matter came to light a full inquiry was instituted. The six men were convicted for homosexual offences under the Penal Code of Bermuda. The sentences were imposed by the Supreme Court of Bermuda. I understand that some of the men are likely to appeal against their sentences.

Mr. Kerr

Is my hon. Friend aware of the widespread sense of outrage in Bermuda and in this country about the severity of these sentences? Will he institute further inquiries to see if something can be done to put the matter right, particularly in view of the recent sexual offences legislation passed in this country?

Mr. Foley

I do not think that it would be proper for me to comment on sentences legally imposed by one of Her Majesty's judges. Bermuda has its own legislation on this subject. Legal aid is available to those who have been convicted and they can appeal; and I understand that at least half of them have decided to appeal.