HC Deb 11 April 1974 vol 872 cc682-98

2.2 p.m.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher (Edinburgh, North)

I want to bring to the attention of the House the case of Mr. David Colville Anderson, QC, who is a former Member of Parliament and a former Solicitor-General for Scotland. My purpose is to ask the Government to set up a public inquiry into the evidence, procedures and the overall circumstances of Mr. Anderson's conviction at Ayr on 22nd May 1973.

I say this first because Mr. Anderson is one of my constituents and secondly because there is considerable public disquiet about the case. For several years, and in particular during the past few months, Mr. Anderson has conducted a vigorous campaign in protestation of his innocence in the course of which most right hon. and hon. Members will have received rather a large mail. I have received a good many letters supporting a public inquiry, three from former Moderators of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, who support the case in no uncertain manner.

Many people including members of the legal profession—members of the Bar and solicitors—have expressed the opinion to me that there should be an effective judicial review of Mr. Anderson's conviction and all other cases tried in this way. The review was prevented by a serious defect in the appellate procedure.

In addition to the case at Ayr, Mr. Anderson has publicly raised questions relating to national security. I am sure that the House and the country would expect such matters to be thoroughly investigated. I will seek an assurance from the Secretary of State on that point.

It is against this general background of public concern about a possible miscarriage of justice that I address the House. Following Mr. Anderson's retiral from politics in 1964 he returned to private practice and in particular to work in which he was involved with public planning inquiries. During the latter half of the 1960s he was Reporter at 14 public inquiries in Scotland. Almost all of the recommendations he made were upheld by the Secretary of State. I suggest that this is a measure of Mr. Anderson's ability. In October 1972, following a change of Government policy aimed at speeding up planning procedures, Mr. Anderson was appointed Chief Reporter of public inquiries in Scotland with the Civil Service rank of Under-Secretary.

I come now to the details of the case at Ayr. The incident took place on 18th December 1972 a few weeks after Mr. Anderson's new appointment. Apparently the two girls involved in the case were approached by a man who told them that he came from Edinburgh and was staying at an hotel in Troon. Following the complaint the police eventually found the man from Edinburgh staying at an hotel in Troon, and that man was Mr. Anderson.

The House may find it extraordinary that anyone would, in those circumstances, divulge such information about himself. At the Sheriff's Court in Ayr in May 1973 Mr. Anderson was convicted and fined £50 on a charge of breach of the peace. The two 14-year-old girls involved were the only eye witnesses. Mr. Anderson's appeals failed for reasons which I shall explain later. As a result he was dismissed from the Civil Service and his career and reputation are now in ruins.

On the evidence that came before the court at Ayr I believe that my constituent was entitled to expect an acquittal. One girl wrote on a piece of paper which was produced in court by the police that the car was a bright blue Chrysler with a 4 and a 5 in its registration number. It was not disputed in the court that Mr. Anderson's car was a dark greenish-blue Triumph estate and that its registration number was 555—an easily remembered arrangement.

Furthermore, the girls gave the police a description of the man. This was read out in court from a police notebook. The description differed from Mr. Anderson in at least six important particulars including the colour of his hair, his complexion, his build, his eyes and his eyebrows. He was described as being short, about 5 ft. 6 ins. whereas he is 5 ft. 9 ins.

I know that any one of these points by itself would not be significant. But surely when they are put together, as they must be, they present a very different picture for the important purposes of identification in court. During the trial one of the girls at first positively identified the shorthand writer in the court. It was only after being asked to look around again that she identified Mr. Anderson. In addition the two hotel proprietors gave evidence that Mr. Anderson and his car were at the hotel throughout the evening and there was police evidence which said that a minimum of 40 minutes would be required if Mr. Anderson were to leave the hotel, go to the scene of the offence and return.

There was further evidence, in addition to that of the two hotel proprietors, which gave a strong indication that Mr. Anderson was at the hotel during the evening. What was the evidence against my constituent? It was an identification made by the two girls who were sitting together in a police car awaiting Mr. Anderson's arrival at the police station to hand in a photograph, which he had agreed to do. This identification possessed features which caused unreliability and considerable public disquiet.

I have here instructions to the police in Scotland on these proceedings adopted by the Chief Constables' Association. On page 8 of the pamphlet it is made absolutely clear that witnesses must be separate when identifying a suspect so that they will not influence each other. I am sure that the House will agree that this is especially necessary when young people are concerned.

The two girls were about 130 feet from Mr. Anderson when they identified him from the police car. That is roughly the equivalent of you, Mr. Speaker, making a detailed identification from your Chair of a person standing just opposite Churchill's statue at the entrance to the Members' Lobby—rather a long distance. It is no wonder that one of my constituents wrote to me and asked whether the girls concerned had telescopic eyes. What happened was that, on their own admission, the girls identified Mr. Anderson because he was driving the car that they had a day or two previously picked out in the Troon car park.

The House may well ask how a conviction on such evidence could have been upheld on appeal, and that is an appropriate question. As I said earlier, it was because an effective review of the conviction was prevented by a defect in the appellate procedure. Mr. Anderson was tried by a sheriff sitting alone, with no jury, and he had no option of a jury trial. The appeal was governed by the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Act 1954, which makes the appeal court totally dependent on such facts as the sheriff chooses to state. Such facts cannot be challenged by looking at the actual evidence in the case, so the appeal is confined to questions of law based on the unappealable facts as presented by the sheriff.

For all practical purposes, therefore, it is not possible to appeal against mistaken identity in Scotland where there has been no jury. In cases where there is a jury, official shorthand records are kept and the appeal court can look at the actual evidence.

If, therefore, it is said that there have been appeals and that my constituent has exhausted his judicial remedies, the House should remember that the appeal court could not look at the verbal evidence. There is no alternative open to my constituent but to seek some form of public inquiry into the propriety of his conviction.

In the appeal the sheriff omitted from his findings of fact all reference to several important items. These were items of unchallenged police evidence. They included the description of the man involved and the evidence of the two hotel proprietors and others relating to his being in the hotel throughout the afternoon. The sheriff made no mention of the breaches of the rules of identification. It is difficult to see how this system can be justified.

Mr. Anderson's counsel, who is a sheriff principal and Vice-Dean of the Scottish Bar, submitted to the Ayr sheriff ten pages of proposed additional facts, but the sheriff refused the lot except for one procedural sentence, and refused to allow a hearing. It is difficult to find fairness in these proceedings when one examines the background of the case.

I referred earlier to the distinction between a jury trial and a non-jury trial in the case of an appeal. I have here two Press cuttings. The first is from the Scotsman of 4th October 1973 and it deals with Mr. Anderson's appeal. It is reported that Lord Justice-Clerk Wheatley said that there was a presumption that Sheriff Reid, as a very experienced sheriff, would take the defence evidence into account.

A few weeks ago, on 23rd March, the same appeal judge dealing with a case involving the same sheriff took rather a different view. He said that the sheriff deserved serious criticism for having failed to do that very thing—that is to take the defence evidence into account—and he reversed the sheriff's finding. The difference between these two cases is that the second one had been a jury trial, and the full evidence presented was available to the appeal court.

Many letters I have received express concern that the appeal system places so much unappealable responsibility on the sheriff who has tried the case. The governing Act, which was passed in 1954—rather recent as Acts go—repeats a system which goes back to the days when it was customary to hang people for sheep stealing.

I have with me the evidence of the Ayr case, because Mr. Anderson's legal advisers, being fully aware of the weaknesses of the system, hired at their own expense a firm of official shorthand writers to take down the full details of the case. This volume is available to the public inquiry. So far I have confined my remarks to the Ayr case and the subsequent appeal, about which there is a great deal of public concern.

I should like to refer briefly to another aspect of this case which concerns certain security matters of which the House should be informed. Mr. Anderson has described a mission he undertook in Norway just before the end of the war, and suggested that his activities did not exactly please some of our allies. Mr. Anderson was decorated with the Norwegian Freedom Medal, and the citation was: For outstanding services in connection with the liberation of Norway My constituent believes that, as a result of this Norwegian affair, it is possible that agents of another country may have plotted to embarrass him in 1963 when he was Solicitor-General for Scotland and a Member of the House. I have here a copy of a personal minute of the Prime Minister dated 21st June 1963 which refers to the resignation of Mr. Profumo and warns Ministers that many rumours and allegations are circulating which are damaging to Ministers and other people in public life. The copy I have is addressed to the Solicitor-General at the time, Mr. Anderson. Mr. Anderson considers that similar circumstances may surround the incident at Ayr in December 1972.

He has advised me that he reported certain matters to our security services on two occasions, the more recent being in 1972. I cannot claim to have personal knowledge of these matters, but these disclosures have added to the public disquiet about the case, and I ask the Minister who is to reply to make specific reference to them.

On Monday of this week the Home Secretary made a statement about the case of Mr. Laszlo Virag which, he said, involved a grave miscarriage of justice. I remind the House of three points from that statement. First, Mr. Virag appealed unsuccessfully against his conviction and sentence. Secondly, the Home Secretary referred to a similar case—the Meehan case—with which I think the Secretary of State for Scotland is familiar, which involved identification. That case concerned an incident which also took place at Ayr.

Thirdly, the Home Secretary said that the case against Mr. Virag rested on identification, as did the case of Mr. Dougherty, and that he would appoint a committee to examine the law and police procedure as a matter of urgency. I am sure that the Secretary of State for Scotland will wish to take the same open and searching attitude to the criticisms of procedure that I have made today.

In this case the purpose of an inquiry should be to examine whether a miscarriage of justice has occurred and to examine the law and the police procedure. It is not for me, the Secretary of State or the House to question the guilt or innocence of my constituent but to see that justice is done. As the purpose of the debate is to question the circumstances of the law and not the guilt or innocence of Mr. Anderson, I hope that I shall have the support of the House in urging the Government to set up a public inquiry.

2.20 p.m.

Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this debate and to make a short contribution. I first compliment my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher) on the lucid manner in which he presented what must by any stretch of the imagination have been a difficult and delicate case. All hon. Members who have any knowledge of the law will have been impressed by my hon. Friend's handling of the legal aspects which, for a layman, must have been extremely difficult.

My hon. Friend has stressed the need for a public inquiry. I am sure that all hon. Members will be definitely of the view that he was right in not wishing to prejudge any decision to which an inquiry might come if one were to be set up as a result of this debate. For anyone to try to predetermine the result of such an inquiry would be wrong and improper. It is clear that if an inquiry were to be appointed it would be necessary and desirable that those conducting it should have access to all information that might be relevant to its purposes. All evidence—oral, written and otherwise—that might be remotely relevant would have to be considered by such an inquiry.

It is indicative of the determination with which Mr. Anderson wishes to pursue his plea that an inquiry would result in his acquittal or in pardon, that it has led him to take this course of action. For Mr. Anderson this must be the crossing of the Rubicon. Were an inquiry to be held, many matters would come before it which must have caused Mr. Anderson considerable embarrassment and hurt in the past and would certainly do so again if the matter were reopened. The House should take that into account in considering his determination that the matter should be reopened.

Many people in Scotland have grave qualifications about the procedure for an appellant following summary conviction. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North has pointed out the grave limitations facing an appellant in such a situation. For example, no records are kept of the evidence, and the appeal must be on matters of law rather than of fact. It is for the presiding sheriff to determine the facts that will go before the appellate court. In the majority of cases with which the summary courts deal, such a procedure is only right and sensible. The majority of the matters considered by such courts are of a relatively trivial nature and have no serious consequences. The offence of which Mr. Anderson was convicted was one of breach of the peace. That is one of the least serious of offences. However, it is clear that there are occasions when the most trivial of offences may have the most dramatic consequences to an individual's life and reputation.

The point can be made legitimately that there are deficiencies in the Scottish procedure. Far be it from me to point to those instances in which the English procedure for dealing with summary conviction might be superior to the Scottish procedure, but we know that there have been occasions when the English have borrowed from the Scottish criminal law—for example, diminished responsibility and majority verdicts. I suggest that in this case Scottish law could usefully borrow from the English procedure.

I understand that when a man is convicted by a summary court in England he has the right to demand a rehearing of his trial—in effect, a new trial—so that the higher court can not only consider the questions of law that were determined by the court of first instance but can reexamine the witnesses. Further, that court can hear new evidence that the appellant might wish to bring forward. If such a procedure had been available in Scotland to Mr. Anderson there is no doubt that this debate would not have been necessary. Indeed, if the case had been reheard and the result had been a conviction, Mr. Anderson could have had no legitimate complaint about the procedure employed.

I hope that the Secretary of State will consider not only the immediate question of a public inquiry but the procedure that is applied in Scotland to summary convictions. I hope that he will seriously con- sider whether changes should be made so as to allow some form of a review of the facts when a person has been convicted under the summary procedure. I understand that the English system provides that after a second trial has been heard, which might result in the same verdict, then and only then is an appeal restricted to matters of law. In that event new evidence could not be brought before a further court of criminal appeal. Such a change would be eminently desirable.

I hope that the Secretary of State and those concerned with the administration of law in Scotland will give serious consideration to a matter that has caused considerable disquiet in Scotland over many years. There has been disquiet not only about Mr. Anderson's case but about many others.

2.26 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

I make no complaint that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher) has raised the matter of Mr. D. C. Anderson's conviction at Ayr Sheriff Court last year on a charge of a breach of the peace. The hon. Gentleman made it clear, and I confirm what he says, that Mr. Anderson has been assiduous for quite a time in pressing his case for some form of inquiry. His latest memorandum has been put in the hands of hon. Members and many other people. One result has been that a considerable number of letters has been sent to me and to my hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate.

The whole complex of issues as set out by Mr. Anderson represents a vast web of incidents over many years, and at least some of these the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North has touched upon. Even if time were available, I do not think that it would be profitable to undertake a lengthy commentary. I can well understand the distress Mr. Anderson feels over the position in which he finds himself. The whole subject is inevitably painful. I was present when Mr. Anderson became a Conservative hon. Member, having already been appointed Solicitor-General for Scotland by Mr. Macmillan. I can equally well remember the occasion when he resigned from that office when the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir A. Douglas-Home), was Prime Minister.

So far as I can judge, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North is seeking some form of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Anderson's conviction last year in the light of the considerations that Mr. Anderson has brought forward, including the long history of alleged attempts by Soviet agents to subvert him. The hon. Member will realise that that is a tall order. I should make it plain now that the Government have no intention of setting up an inquiry of the kind suggested.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher


Mr. Ross

I do not have much time. Two of the hon. Gentleman's hon Friends have spoken.

Given that the whole history as set out by Mr. Anderson in his memorandum represents an enormous tangle, it may be convenient if I separate two strands—first, and the more specific, his conviction at Ayr Sheriff Court last year and, second, the argumentation bearing on the supposition over many years that he was subject to impersonation and victimisation by Soviet agents.

Those two strands run together in Mr. Anderson's mind, although it is true to say that the Soviet agent strand did not appear until 1969. Mr. Anderson maintains that he must have been impersonated in the context of the episode which led to the charge of breach of the peace.

It may be helpful to say something separately about the two issues. The one at least can be said to come within my responsibility, although I was not in office at the material time. All these matters took place while there was a Lord Advocate who was the predecessor of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind). As far as I can judge, the second strand goes a good deal beyond my sphere of responsibility.

I shall take the Ayr position first. I have no intention of going over the facts of the matter, let alone commenting on the evidence. It seems clear that Mr. Anderson has, since his conviction in May last year, followed through every avenue of appeal, as he was fully entitled to do. He went so far as to take the highly unusual course of petitioning the High Court of Justiciary for the exercise of the nobile officium to quash his conviction. On 21st December the High Court of Justiciary dismissed the petition as incompetent, but it may be noted that the court went out of its way to remark on the nature of the evidence before the sheriff and on the sole question for decision at the trial, which it said was: a question essentially of credibility and reliability within the competence of an experienced sheriff to resolve upon the evidence. That same day, I am informed, Mr. Anderson, through his solicitors, lodged a petition with the then Secretary of State seeking the exercise of the Royal Prerogative—in other words, seeking a pardon. I am assured that my predecessor, Mr. Gordon Campbell, gave the petition very careful consideration. This is not new information. I have seen a copy of Mr. Campbell's letter, sent on his instructions on 8th January 1974, to Mr. Anderson's solicitors.

Mr. Campbell's letter explained that, in considering whether to advise that the Royal Prerogative be exercised in any particular case, the Secretary of State cannot act as an appeal tribunal and that the circumstances in which such advice may be given are strictly limited.

Mr. Michael Ancram (Berwick and East Lothian)

Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that he is satisfied with the appellate procedure under the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Act?

Mr. Ross

I am coming to that. The letter went on to say that Mr. Campbell had carefully considered the petition in its bearing on the circumstances of the trial and conviction, but had concluded that there were no grounds which would justify him in recommending exercise of the Royal Prerogative.

It is not for me to comment on Mr. Campbell's decision, but I do not think that I would have any grounds for taking a different view from that which he took. Nor do I wish to comment at length on the points that have been made by Mr. Anderson and by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North about the system of appeals from summary trials. The hon. Gentleman must appreciate—this is public knowledge—that in the course of the nobile officium judgment, when the petition was declared incompetent, this matter was gone into very carefully. The Lord President, who is head of the judiciary in Scotland, then said about the case: Lest it be thought, however, that in so saying we have overlooked the petitioner's criticisms of the Sheriff in relation to the preparation of the Stated Case we have to add that all these criticisms were advanced and rejected by the High Court of Justiciary which heard the petitioner's appeal. In delivering the opinion of the Court the Lord Justice General said this— 'It was forcibly submitted by applicant's counsel, however, that the facts stated indicated that the Sheriff had obviously accepted the evidence of identification given by the two girl complainers without due regard having been given to all the other evidence in the case which conflicted with the reliability of that identification. And that in any event there were elements in the stated facts, relating to their evidence, which indicated that their identification was not reliable. On this latter point I confine myself to saying that the criticisms of the girls' evidence as stated were not well founded. These criticisms were valid matters of comment before the Sheriff, and were admittedly made to him, but he did not regard them as affecting the reliability of their identification and that was a matter for him, and not for this court'". Quite clearly, therefore, these matters had been considered very fully.

It is perfectly true that, in an appeal from a summary trial, the appeal is on questions of law and not on questions of fact. This has been the position for a very long time, under a succession of Lords Advocate, most of them Conservatives, including Mr. W. R. Wylie, who represented Edinburgh, Pentlands in the last Parliament. But no doubt an argument can be made for broadening the basis of appeal in summary cases.

I gather that the Thomson Committee on Criminal Procedure will be considering whether any changes in the appeal procedure should be introduced. Having looked at the stated case myself, I must say that the ground covered in the appeal in Mr. Anderson's case seems to have been remarkably wide indeed. All these things are public knowledge. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North has read them. These matters were very well covered.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

Surely the point is that the Appeal Court could not consider the evidence presented to the Sheriff at Ayr, its decision depending, apparently, upon the stated case which he put forward to the Appeal Court. One is building sand upon sand if one is satisfied with that sort of system particularly in this case.

Mr. Ross

The system has been in existence for a very long time and has been upheld by the Lord Justice General in this case and by others. The system is under examination at present, but I must emphasise that all these facts were considered and have been considered time and time again.

The question of identity and identification is at the heart of the matter. In this case, Mr. Anderson declined to take part in an identification parade. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, North must appreciate that what he read out was guidance in relation to identification parades. The police must do the best they can in such circumstances and they run the risk that any departure from normal procedures will be used as an argument by the defence. In the present case, the matter of identification was fully canvassed in the trial. I should like to quote from the Sheriff's findings as set out in the stated case: I consider that the investigation by the police was very ably and discreetly carried out and that there was no coaching whatever of the young girls on the critical matter of identification. Their identification of the appellant as the person concerned with the incident on 18 December seemed to me to be the naked truth and I believed their evidence in its entirety.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

They were sitting together in a car.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman was not there. He did not hear all the evidence. The sheriff was there and he was satisfied by the evidence. In other words, I must make it clear to the hon. Member that I do not see any grounds for thinking that this case comes into the category to which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was referring in his statement to the House on 8th April on identification procedures.

Mr. Ancram


Mr. Ross

I am sorry, but I have little time left.

Certain people have been accused. I may point out that this case had nothing to do with me. All these procedures were carried out under the Conservative Government. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary referred to identification procedures, and here again we are awaiting the findings of the Thomson Committee, which is considering identification procedures among other matters.

As the High Court of Justiciary remarked in its opinion of 26th December on the petition I have mentioned, what is in point is very much a question of credibility. In this context, there is one circumstance which I consider that in the public interest I should make known, in view of the repeated allegations of miscarriage of justice. In a letter of 26th December 1972 to the Crown Agent, Mr. Anderson admitted that he had been out of his hotel on the evening in question and that he had spoken to two girls on the pavement whom he thought looked scared. This letter was consistent with oral statements made by Mr. Anderson to the Crown Agent and later to two officials of the Scottish Office.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

If the right hon. Gentleman is introducing fresh evidence which was not admitted at the trial at Ayr, surely that justifies a public inquiry into the case.

Mr. Ross

Not at all. Without this evidence, Mr. Anderson was found guilty and this evidence would not have helped him. It is relevant now to the kind of thing said in the memorandum. Mr. Anderson's protestations of innocence, of alibi, of impersonation and victimisation and his allegations of miscarriage of justice have to be seen in the light of this admission which, admittedly, he subsequently withdrew after the formal charge had been served.

Mr. Fletcher

That is an important qualification.

Mr. Ross

Of course it is. I have read Mr. Anderson's letter very carefully. If the hon. Gentleman wants to see it, he can ask Mr. Anderson.

Mr. Fletcher

I have seen it.

Mr. Ross

I was fascinated by the letter. But the hon. Gentleman has seen it. It was, as I have said, subsequently withdrawn after the formal charge and it was not submitted at the trial. But this admission must be regarded as bringing Mr. Anderson's veracity sharply into question. I suggest to the hon. Member that he would be well advised to accept that, against the background of what has gone before, there are no grounds on which, as Secretary of State, I would be justified in setting up any kind of inquiry into the matter of Mr. Anderson's conviction. I can only say on this matter that if the hon. Gentleman has seen Mr. Anderson's letter, it is a pity that he did not quote it. It is a pity that he did not quote it. What is more, any other hon. Member may like to ask Mr. Anderson for a sight of the letter.

That brings me to the second and more tangled strand in the argumentation. I refer, of course, to Mr. Anderson's supposition that he has been the victim of an elaborate conspiracy at the instance of Soviet interests to frame an innocent man on a succession of separate occasions.

I may say that on Mr. Anderson's own showing it was not until 1969 that he first reported his account of the alleged ongoings of the KGB in his regard, and his resignation in March 1964, which he later said was more or less forced upon him, was five years before.

From the memorandum circulated recently by Mr. Anderson and from his petition to my predecessor last December, a copy of which I have seen, it is apparent that the conspiracy, if there were one, was one of quite extraordinary complexity and continuity. I do not think that it would be in the least appropriate for me to pick out episodes from the lengthy history set out by Mr. Anderson.

It seems to me that Mr. Anderson himself is highly selective in his use of material and of names and references to this and that. For example, he refers to a letter from Lord Reid of 6th December, 1969, and he quotes one sentence by itself On that he builds a measure of credibility of his story. However, I have the whole of Lord Reid's letter before me, and I have the authority of the noble Lord to quote it.

It will be remembered that to support his allegations Mr. Anderson said that Lord Reid had written to him saying: You were right in submitting the material. That was a reference to the memorandum submitted by Lord Reid to the Security Service for examination. However, the full letter reads: I have now heard from the authorities. It seemed that the head man has gone into the matter with the Department and decided not to take any further action. I am afraid not very satisfactory from your point of view, but you were right in submitting the material. That gives a very different impression from the one given by quoting a single sentence from the letter which was used in the memorandum to substantiate the case of Mr. Anderson—and I have the impression that it might have been very dangerous even to write "yours sincerely" at the end of a letter to Mr. Anderson.

In much the same way, Mr. Anderson is very free in his use of other people's names—Prime Ministers, Lords Advocate, judges and many others. We all know that strange things can happen. But it is not for me to offer judgment. What I can say with the authority of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is that he has fully investigated Mr. Anderson's assertions but has concluded that there is no justification for further review or independent inquiry.

There is one further point that I should make in this regard. In his circulated memorandum, Mr. Anderson says among many other things that he was given his post as Chief Reporter shortly after he had in February 1972 reported fully to the Security Service on the theme of conspiracy and victimisation. He argues that he could scarcely have been appointed as Chief Reporter in October 1972 unless his report to the Security Service had been considered to be of substance. He suggests that otherwise the implication would be that Ministers of the day had given what he calls "a top public post" to a man whose integrity was suspect.

All this goes back long before I was returned to office. I cannot answer for my predecessor, of course, but I understand that Mr. Anderson had from time to time over the years conducted a number of public inquiries satisfactorily on a fee-paid basis before he was appointed to the Civil Service as a full-time Chief Reporter, and the obvious assumption is that he was considered by all concerned to have the qualifications for the job and to be a suitable person for a Civil Service appointment subject to the satisfac- tory completion of a two-year probationary period of service.

As I said at the outset, the whole business is sad and painful, and I have not been in the least concerned in anything that I have said to add to the inevitable distress which Mr. Anderson must feel. At the same time, where allegations of miscarriage of justice and so forth are put about, I have a public duty to comment since it is important that there should be full confidence in our system of justice in Scotland.

Now that Mr. Anderson's claims and allegations have been brought under debate in this way, I hope that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North and his hon. Friends will accept that no good purpose is served by calling for inquiries and so forth in a situation where the credibility of the individual concerned is wide open to question.

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