HL Deb 26 July 1928 vol 71 cc1352-404

LORD ARNOLD rose to call attention to the Majority and Minority Reports of the Savidge Tribunal and to the provisional instructions which have been given to the Commissioner of Police following upon these Reports; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, at the outset of my remarks I think that I ought to explain to your Lordships how it is that the discussion of this important matter—and it is an important matter—is taking place on a day which is, for reasons which we all know of, very inconvenient. Immediately the Savidge Reports were issued I handed in to the Clerks at the Table at the first opportunity a Motion to debate them on Wednesday of this week, which is, of course, as your Lordships are aware, the most appropriate day for Motions of this character. Within half an hour of my having handed in that Motion at the Table the noble Earl, Lord Plymouth, came to see me followed by the noble Marquess who leads the House and they very strongly urged me to change the date of the Motion from Wednesday to Thursday on the ground that they wished to take on the Wednesday the Racecourse Betting Bill.

I wish to be extremely scrupulous in anything I say, and not by any chance to reveal anything which might be regarded as of a private nature, but I am bound to say that I think the actual reason which was given to me as to why I should make that change was of a very flimsy character—a change from one day to another of what is, after all, a Front Opposition Bench Motion. However, under the united pressure of these two noble Lords, I agreed, and I could not honestly say that there was a great deal of difference as between Wednesday and Thursday. But the next day the noble Earl, Lord Plymouth, came to me and said he had overlooked that there was a certain event on this day, and was I aware of it and did it make any difference? I told him I was not aware of it: it was the first I had heard of it and of course it made a great deal of difference, and I thought in the circumstances I ought to be given the day which I had originally chosen, the Wednesday. I asked him to make representations to that effect to the noble Marquess the Leader of the House. Despite these representations the day was not changed and I have been held to my bond, although I think that the bond was made under a totally different understanding. However, there it is; I do not wish to make any more of it, but I think that some apology is due to your Lordships for the fact that this debate is taking place on a day which is obviously inappropriate.


I must ask the noble Lord to forgive me for a moment. I think our recollection is not quite on all fours with his. It is perfectly true that he did select the Wednesday originally for this Motion and it is also perfectly true that my noble friend Lord Plymouth and I did say to him that we thought that in the circumstances the Racecourse Betting Bill ought to have precedence. He was very courteous and gave way and put his Motion down for the Thursday instead of the Wednesday. It was not till afterwards that I awoke to the fact that Thursday was also selected by a still higher authority than even your Lordships' House for a great social engagement, but I felt at once that we were not treating the noble Lord fairly and therefore it was by my direction that my noble friend Lord Plymouth approached the noble Lord and told him that I had discovered this circumstance and hoped it would not make any difference. We none of us are aware that he asked for the Motion to be put back to the old day. Certainly I am not aware of it and my noble friend Lord Plymouth also informs me that he was not aware of it. Of course, there may have been a misunderstanding, but I should be very sorry indeed if the noble Lord thinks he was badly treated. Really my conscience was so uneasy when I found the Garden Party was fixed for to-day that I sent a special message to the noble Lord to that effect.


We will not pursue the matter any further. There was evidently a complete misunderstanding, because in my own mind it was perfectly clear that I had asked the noble Earl to make representations to the noble Marquess. I told him that I was not very well that day, and I was going home: would he see me next day? The next day he had nothing to say. However, there I leave it.

This Motion raises issues which, in fundamental matters, affect the relationship of the citizen to the police, and the police to the citizen, and trenches on questions of personal liberty. It was because of these facts that, when Mr. Johnston in another place on May 17 first brought this matter forward, a great wave of feeling swept over the minds of members, and the next day through the country. I am not going over the story of the Savidge case. It is too well known now, and I will not take up any time over it by referring to it in detail. It is not necessary. Your Lordships are aware that, as the result of what was said on May 17 in another place, a Tribunal was set up to inquire into what had happened. That Tribunal, by the by, was set up not merely by another place but also by your Lordships' House. That Tribunal has sat, and it has reported. There are two Reports, as your Lordships are aware, a Majority Report and a Minority Report. But, taking them together or separately, they show that what Mr. Johnston said in another place on that Thursday evening was, after inquiry, very largely substantiated. Most of what he said, after inquiry, has not been denied, because it could not be denied.

The Majority and Minority Reports having been presented, it is asked by some: "Why debate the matter any more? Why not leave it alone? Is it not all over now? Why cannot you leave it alone and leave Scotland Yard alone? A Royal Commission for a full Inquiry into the police system has been promised. The Home Secretary has announced certain instructions or regulations for the police in the meanwhile. Therefore, what more is there to be said?" For one thing, as I shall have occasion to show before I sit down, I think these instructions or regulations for the police have not the meaning which the Home Secretary contended they had. I regard them, I say at once, as almost wholly unsatisfactory. Then when it is asked: Why debate it any more? it must not be forgotten, as I have already mentioned, that part of the machinery for setting up this Tribunal was the Resolution of your Lordships' House. There has never been any debate here upon this matter. Surely it is not suggested that there ought not to be a debate? The noble Marquess certainly did not suggest that. I think it is perfectly clear that the matter ought to be discussed; indeed, we should be failing in our duty if we did not discuss it. Had a unanimous Report been presented, it would, I suppose, have been discussed, and as there are two Reports presented they ought to be discussed.

I will not ask your Lordships to decide between the Majority Report and the Minority Report. If I did so it would be a perfectly proper Parliamentary proceeding, but I am not going to do it, more particularly because an exceptional situation has been created. That is due to the fact that in some of its important findings the Majority Report gives no real reasons for its judgments. When no real reasons are given and when no real guidance is offered, how can Parliament accept a Report? It seems to me that it is bound to discuss it. It has had practically all the evidence which the Tribunal had. The whole case was very fully reported, almost verbatim, and therefore we are in an extremely good position to discuss these various issues. It is almost without precedent, I think, for a Report to be presented without quite full reasons for all its findings. Certainly I can recall no such happening before. With all due respect to the Majority Commissioners, it seems to me that they do not quite seem to realise what Parliament expects, and what Parliament has a right to expect, from a Tribunal which it has set up. If it were necessary—I hope it may not be again—I hope it will be laid down that a future Tribunal shall give reasons for its findings and for all its findings.

In those circumstances I am bound to say something about the respective merits and demerits of these two Reports. I will do so briefly because I want to speak about two other matters: first, the actions of the Public Prosecutor; and, secondly, as I have already said, these instructions or regulations which have been given to the police. Coming to the Reports I say at once that so far as I am concerned I condemn the Majority Report. If I were to say what I really think about it no doubt your Lordships would regard my language as very extreme. Happily on this occasion I am spared the necessity of shocking your Lordships because language equally as strong as I should use, at any rate quite strong enough for my purpose, has appeared in the Press almost all over the country. Therefore, instead of giving my own words I propose, with your Lordships' permission, to read a few extracts from the Press about this Majority Report. I will not read anything from a Labour newspaper or from a newspaper supporting the Official Opposition because any such extracts might be deemed partisan. I should think it is safe to say that no Report which has ever been presented to Parliament has had a worse Press than this Majority Report. No Report has received more criticism. I have seen scores of Press cuttings from newspapers in the north, south, east and west, all over the country, and with comparatively few exceptions this Report has been condemned by the Press.

I will come to the quotations. I will not give your Lordships many, but I will read more than I otherwise should because some of these extracts put in a few words arguments very relevant to some of the chief issues in the whole matter. First I will take the Saturday Review, which is one of the most Conservative papers in the country. What does the Saturday Review say:— The Majority Report was one of the worst examples of whitewashing undoubtedly that has been offered for some time; but paradoxically the whitewash was laid on so thickly that everyone could see through it. Sir John Bankes and Mr. Withers blamed what they could not help blaming because it was there for all to see; Mr. Lees-Smith told the truth. 'Great perils to private citizens and civil liberty have been revealed,' he said. The Majority may have felt justified in using whitewash with the object—in itself a worthy one—of preserving a healthy relationship between the public and the police. … The public, however, has judged for itself, and we have no doubt in what sense. Next I will take the Manchester Guardian, which says:— The conclusions reached by Sir John Bankes and Mr. Withers are those which were unavoidable. They are, in fact, conclusions which could have been arrived at without any special Committee of Inquiry. … It is remarkable that Mr. Lees-Smith, who is the only lay member of the Tribunal, should have followed the usual habit of Judges who, in weighing the evidence, usually give reasons for accepting the word of one witness rather than another. Then I come to the Daily Chronicle. They say that the Majority Report must be pronounced most inadequate and disappointing. In form it is a slipshod, unindustrious piece of work, in which little pains have been taken to disentangle issues or to marshal the evidence bearing on each. In substance it is difficult not to call it whitewashing. It contrives to conclude that none of the official persons in its purview deserve the slightest censure. The Daily Chronicle, continuing and commenting on the fact that the majority preferred the evidence of the police to that of Miss Savidge, says:— This conclusion, however convenient in some aspects, seems to us quite uncritical and improbable. It also says:— Nor can we help feeling that in its main lines Mr. Lees-Smith's Report is altogether the weightier document. It contains nothing 'extreme' and seems to reflect less subconscious bias than the Majority's. But far more brain-work has been done on it and a far more scientific method is followed in collating evidence and conclusions. Next I will quote from the New Statesman, which is not a Labour paper, I wish it were. It is an independent paper. It says:— The Majority Report seems to us indeed a disgraceful document. It is not perhaps impossible but it is extremely difficult to believe that what Sir John Bankes and Mr. Withers has reported represents their conscientious and unreserved view of the truth of the whole affair. The Majority Report can, and will, be ignored. … If the Majority Report were taken at its face value it may do very great harm; but we believe that the House of Commons, without regard to Party, is now alive to the importance of restoring public confidence in the London police, and will not be lulled into apathy by the inanities of Sir John Bankes and Mr. Withers. I take now the Daily Mirror, which is, I think, one of the Rothermere newspapers. In a special article written by a barrister, Mr. George Goodwin, this paper says:— It may fairly be prophesied that with the public the majority will favour the Minority Report and that the Majority Report will find favour mostly in official circles where the epistolary style of the Public Prosecutor is admired. Then, the Nation and Athenæum says:— The solemn humbug which has been exhibited at every turn of the ludicrous Savidge affair has been sustained to the very end. … The anxiety to discredit Mr. Lees-Smith's Report has, indeed, been remarkable. … We must consider the two Reports upon their merits, and when we do so a remarkable contrast is at once apparent. Mr. Lees-Smith sets out to weigh the conflicting evidence, but states at length the reasons why he believes Miss Savidge and not Inspector Collins. Sir Eldon Bankes and Mr. Withers give no reasons for their finding. To refrain from giving reasons for your conclusions may be a sound military tradition, but it is not a judicial tradition. Is it unreasonable to infer that Sir Eldon Banker and Mr. Withers gave no reasons because there are none to give?"

The last quotation I take from the Sunday Chronicle, which, again, is in no sense a Labour Party organ. It is or was one of the Hulton group. In an article in the Sunday Chronicle, written by Judge Parry, one of the most experienced and respected County Court Judges in the country, these words appear:— But for the Minority Report of Mr. Lees-Smith the Savidge Inquiry would have been waste of time and money; the Majority Report, with the exception of its concluding paragraphs, might have been written in Scotland Yard. … Mr. Lees-Smith is undoubtedly right in taking no part in endeavouring to smooth over public anxiety, His Report is good black and white. He says what he thinks and he thinks what is true, and the truth is rare and refreshing fruit for the weary citizen. I am quite prepared, so far as any language which I might employ about the Majority Report, to leave it at that.

Not only has there been this chorus of condemnation in the lay Press, but later I will quote something from the law journals. According to my information, and some of it is good, the overwhelming majority of the country sides with the Minority Report rather than with the Majority Report. It seems to be assumed, because there is some measure of agreement between the two Reports, that where there is disagreement it is in minor matters only. I do not think that is the right perspective. Let us look at it. The disagreement between the Reports is mainly on two heads. First, the Minority Report censures the police officers and the Majority Report does not. Secondly, the Minority Report believes Miss Savidge and the Majority Report believes the police officers. I think it is worth while briefly considering these two points. The Minority Report censures the police officers, the Majority Report does not, not because the majority do not say things were done which they think ought not to have been done, but because they say what was done was in accordance with the usual practice. Is that really so in every case? For instance, is this in accordance with the usual practice? Miss Savidge was got to Scotland Yard by a trick. Sergeant Clark said to her that there were a few matters to be cleared up. That was the reason given to her by Clark for asking her to Scotland Yard. That was a wrong reason. He spoke as if it was a trivial matter, whereas in point of fact it was a very serious matter, for a most prolonged, searching and delicate cross-examination was going to take place when she got to Scotland Yard. Is it in accordance with the usual practice to get people to Scotland Yard by fraud, to tell them they are going there for one thing when it is known perfectly well they are going there for something else? I hope that is not in accordance with the usual practice of Scotland Yard. But there is no censure in the Majority Report.

Again, is it the usual practice of Scotland Yard to use a woman police officer as a decoy? It really is not denied that this woman was used as a decoy to get Miss Savidge to Scotland Yard. It cannot be denied on the facts. I hope that is not the usual practice, but there is no censure. Take another point. This may seem trivial. This, I am afraid, may be in accordance with the usual practice. Miss Savidge, a young lady of twenty-two, was actually called by Collins by her Christian name. What right had Inspector Collins to call this young lady by her Christian name? I think it is a grossly wrong thing to do. The very fact that he did it shows that Collins did treat her with familiarity. But all the Majority Report says about this is that it is "curious." That is the word they use—curious! I wonder what they would have said if it had been someone aged twenty-two in a different station of life who had been called by her Christian name by a police officer. I am afraid this incident may be in accordance with the usual practice, because the Majority Report seems to indicate it. The fact is, that according to Scotland Yard, people—witnesses and others—are not equal before the law as most of us thought they were. They are not treated equally, they are not treated in the same way. The Majority Report even tells us they are not. It tells us that the procedure differs in accordance with the position of the witness. That is clearly wrong and that has got to be changed at Scotland Yard.

I pass to the second question on which there is disagreement between the two Reports, that of credibility. It is said: "How can you possibly discuss credibility? The Majority Report accepts the word of the police officers, the Minority Report accepts the word of Miss Savidge; how can anybody say anything else about it?" I think a few things can be said, some of them new things which have not been said before. In the first place this question of credibility is not, as some people seem to think, a small matter. It is not whether a young London girl is or is not telling the truth. There is more in it than that. The converse applies. If Miss Savidge is telling the truth, as the Minority Report says she is, then the Minority Report in fact charges the police officers with deliberately committing perjury before the Tribunal in order to save themselves. That is what it comes to. The usual defence of the Majority Report is to say that only those in court could judge from the demeanour of the witnesses and so forth. In this case that simply will not do. It was an open court and there were a great many people in the court very competent to judge besides the Commissioners. Incidentally Mr. Lees-Smith, one of the Commissioners, was there and he judged. What did he say? He said, amongst other things, that she gave the impression of being a frank witness and that the police officers were not equally frank.

But, it is said, the Minority Commissioner is not a judge. If the Minority Commissioner was not competent to weigh evidence why was he put on the Commission? Mr. Lees-Smith is not a fool. He has written a Report which, for its ability, has excited commendation all over the country. I think it is impossible he can be so far mistaken that when a witness is a bad witness he should say she is a good witness. Moreover, there were a great many other people there, legal people many of them, and it is a matter of common knowledge and common consent that Miss Savidge was an extraordinarily good witness. She stood without flinching a most relentless cross-examination by one of the ablest counsel of the day which lasted many hours. Not only that, but the police had been doing all they could to try to get hold of something to discredit her. They had been ferreting about amongst her school companions trying to find something that they could bring against her, trying to find some mud that they could sling at her. That is not denied. Sergeant Chambers gave evidence that at the end of one day he put in his diary: No success. There was no mud to sling; nothing with which to besmirch the character of this young woman. They tried for days and could get nothing. Every attempt, legitimate and otherwise, was made to shake her as a credible witness. They could do nothing. Moreover, the great mass of the public refused to believe that any girl could have made up this story told by Miss Savidge. The story she told at Scotland Yard was stuck to throughout a relentless cross-examination. One of the weekly papers says that if she could have made it up she would very soon be one of the most remarkable women of our time. But all these considerations do not weigh with the Majority Commissioners.

There is a further point which has not, I think, been put on this question of credibility, certainly not in either of the Reports. I think it is important. It is the question of motive. Surely when you are discussing credibility you must have regard to motive. Consider the position. Miss Savidge, when she made the statement to her solicitors, had been very carefully warned to be extremely particular on that Wednesday morning after she had been at Scotland Yard. She did not know there was going to be a Parliamentary Inquiry. She hardly knew there was a Parliament. How could she foresee all these things which subsequently happened? Why then should she make it all up? What motive had she? What real object had she to serve? On the other hand, what motive had Collins and Clark to deny it? Their motive must be very plain, because if they did not deny it and deny everything, their careers were in the very gravest jeopardy. There you have the two alternatives on the question of motive. Collins and Clark denied everything, as the Minority Report said, with mechanical precision. They denied equally both the probable and the improbable.

As Judge Parry, in that article which I have quoted, points out, they even denied having said: "I want you to tell me the truth, all you know about it, because I already know everything." They said they did not say it. Miss Savidge says Collins said, "We know everything." Collins denies it, but it is a singular coincidence that Miss Egan says Collins used those very words to her which Judge Parry quoted. That was her evidence and Miss Egan's evidence was obviously straightforward evidence. She did not want to go. She was an unwilling witness. She had to be compelled to go, and that was her evidence. The Majority Commissioners, the Commissioners as a whole, were so impressed, that they did not call her brother to corroborate her and she was allowed to leave the box. It is incredible that both these young women, quite ignorant of police matters and police questions, should separately have invented this remark because, as Judge Parry says, if these girls made it up it was a curious thing for them to invent. This remark is, as he points out, the oldest police bluff in the world. It was a favourite form of words as long ago as the time of the great Chief Justice Jeffreys. Yet Clark and Collins deny absolutely that they used these words.

Then I call attention to something which I think has hitherto escaped notice, but which is not without importance in my view when considering the credibility of the police officers. When Mr. Johnston, on May 17, first brought up this matter in another place, Clark and Collins, according to the Home Secretary's speech reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT, then denied certain things which it now seems clear even the Majority Report says did happen. It seems to me that there you have corroborative evidence that Collins and Clark are very good at denials. I say that in all the circumstances it is not surprising that the overwhelming majority of the people of the country do not agree with the Majority Report, but believe Miss Savidge. It is not surprising, and it is because, in my view, an injustice has been done in this matter that I have spoken as I have done.

Now I come to the Public Prosecutor, and I will speak at once about the now famous letter to Messrs. Syrett, the solicitors to Sir Leo Money who also acted for Miss Savidge. Your Lordships are no doubt by this time very familiar with that letter. It is printed in the Report on the last page. It has been described by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, who is very particular about the use of words and who does not lightly run into extreme language, as the most improper document of an official character that he had ever read in his life. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald also said that, in his view, Sir Archibald Bodkin was deserving of the most severe censure. Is that denied? Is it not a fact that everybody except the Government and a few people in the official class are blaming the Public Prosecutor? You all know it is true. This letter has every fault. It is not even grammatical. It contains a very elementary grammatical error. It is composed of long involved sentences. In my professional life I was always taught that, particularly in delicate and difficult matters, the less you put down in writing the better. That does not seem to be the plan of the Public Prosecutor. He says as much as possible and says it as badly as possible.

Here I would fortify myself. I need not say very much myself because I can fortify myself by such very respectable people that I think they will appeal even to your Lordships. I will give quotations from the law papers. I will take the Law Journal. On this letter of the Public Prosecutor the Law Journal says:— It is not too much to say that the legal profession read that letter with incredulous amazement which was intensified when Sir Archibald Bodkin, in his evidence, asserted (according to The Times on June 13) that, when his Department is engaged in an investigation, 'as a matter of law it is the duty of a person frankly and fully to give the responsible people who are making enquiries … a frank statement so that I may consider the position in all its bearings.' I wonder if any noble Lord here who is learned in the Law—I see my noble friend the Marquess of Reading here—will get up in this House and say that that is the law. I am informed on the very highest authority that it is not the law. The Law Journal goes on to say:— The Majority Report summarises the letter in paragraph 24, but makes no comment on it; and Mr. Lees-Smith contents himself with saying that it is couched in terms unsuitable to the correspondence of a public department. Since the matter was fully discussed before the Tribunal, we think this reticence is unfortunate; it should have been made plain that so far as the letter, and Sir Archibald Bodkin's evidence, amount to a contention that the police, whether acting under his direction or not, are entitled to demand that an individual shall submit to be interrogated in the course of an investigation into an alleged crime, or that a person consenting to be interrogated is not entitled to the fullest protection of his legal advisers, this is wholly wrong. That is what the Law Journal says.

What defence of this letter has been set up? Sir Archibald Bodkin says he was very busy. Well, this is an entirely new theory. My experience in professional life was that the best work was done when people were busy. Bad work was done when people were slack. That was when mistakes crept in. This defence will not do at all. The Public Prosecutor will always be busy. If you may judge from reading some of the statements he has made about the work he has to do, and all the briefs he has to read through, he will always be busy, so that on this theory he stands self-condemned. On this theory he will never be able properly to discharge the duties of his responsible office. They called in the Attorney-General to see what he could say. What is it he says? I must say that when I read what he said I thought it was singularly unconvincing. At the end he says that the Public Prosecutor ought to be thanked. Well, I cannot help wondering what the Attorney-General would have said if it had been otherwise, if this man had not been the Public Prosecutor, and if it had been the job of the Attorney-General not to apologise for him but to condemn him. What a torrent of scornful invective we should have had and how this flimsy excuse would have been torn up!

The most extraordinary thing about this extraordinary letter is the extraordinary explanation given about the extraordinary last line. Your Lordships are probably familiar with that. That last line everybody took to be a threat, because it said "if you decline I must take other steps to procure what is essential for me to have before me." The Law Journal—I am in a very happy position this afternoon because I can quote such respectable authorities at every turn—said about this phrase:— The phrase is nearly almost common form for a threat. That is not what I say. It is what the Law Journal says. Is there any one of Your Lordships who on reading that letter put upon it any other interpretation than the commonsense interpretation that it was a threat? Noble Lords in this House have spoken to me about it. Not a single one ever suggested that it had any other meaning than the meaning which practically everybody would put upon it.

What does the Majority Report say about this? Not a syllable. It does not mention it. The point that I want to put is this. We know of this letter. It has come out. It probably would not have come out, or would not have received anything like this publicity, if Parliament had not been sitting, but it has come out and it has created a very uneasy feeling. How many more letters are there that the Public Prosecutor has sent out and that we do not know of? How many other people have been threatened, bullied and terrorised? If he writes like this to a firm of solicitors, who know what the law is, how has he been writing to people who are not solicitors and do not know what the law is? I think this is an indication of the spirit of the Public Prosecutor's office. If he is at the head and does this kind of thing, what do some of his subordinates do?

The Law Times also calls attention to another very important point. The view is taken in many quarters that the whole trouble in this matter has arisen through the Public Prosecutor not realising at the outset the vital importance of the case. The Law Times says:— We think that the profession— that is the legal profession— will not have much difficulty in appreciating how the trouble has arisen. It was due to mistakes or errors of judgment which might well have been avoided. In the first place the inability of the official mind to depart from 'accepted practice'—not statutory duty—in a case where it was essentially necessary resulted in action which is condemned by both Reports. I am not going into the question of the Public Prosecutor's staff, although the Law Times dwells strongly on that point and suggests that he might have employed some of his staff, or even the police solicitors, in this very exceptional case. They urge that point strongly, and they add:— It is difficult to understand how a man with the wide experience of Sir Archibald Bodkin should have allowed his judgment to be at default in not recognising that special treatment and not 'accepted practice' was necessary. His large practice at the Bar before the acceptance of office should have warned him of the danger of too much insistence on 'accepted practice.' They also say:— Although it is true that the Director of Public Prosecutions was following the accepted practice, we cannot accept the statement that it was the only way open to him. I think it is no exaggeration to say that public confidence in the Public Prosecutor has been greatly shaken by these happenings, and a large section of the community thinks that he will be fortunate if he is allowed to remain in office. It seems to me preposterous after these happenings that the Attorney-General should say that he ought to be thanked. This is really making official life an insincere farce.

I come to my last question, and that is the question of the instructions or regulations issued by the Commissioner of Police following upon these Reports. I think these regulations ought to have the most careful scrutiny, because they deal with matters of vital importance. The Home Secretary says that in these regulations he is trying to carry out the recommendations of the Majority Report That which the Home Secretary has put into words does not carry out those recommendations. I believe that the noble and learned Earl who is now occupying the Woolsack [the Earl of Birkenhead] is going to take part in this debate. I hope that he will and, if I may, I should like to appeal to him to bring his great analytical brain to bear upon these words because, if he does so, I am quite sure he will agree with me that the claim that the Home Secretary has made cannot be substantiated. The noble and learned Earl has more than once, as I may remind your Lordships, had to put right in your Lordships' House the mistakes of the Home Office. He did so only a little time ago, and I am very glad, if I may say so respectfully, that he is here to-day, because I am hopeful that something may come of this debate I will not go into the point, though I feel strongly upon it, that the Majority recommendations themselves do not go far enough. But the Home Secretary says that he is carrying out that which is set out in the Majority Report, and he seems to think that there is nothing more to be done.

What does the Majority Report want? It really wants a warning to be given in practically every case, subject to the word "chiefly"—I will not go into that, though I think it is a pity the word is included—where the witness (I am not now speaking of prisoners or suspects) might incriminate himself or herself during examination. This instruction does nothing of the kind. No persons are to be warned of the possible consequences to themselves except in the case of youth, inexperience or ignorance, and Scotland Yard and the police are to be the judges. That is not what the Majority Report recommends. They do not make any such limitation as that. First of all, it is very vital to note that these limitations would rule out Miss Savidge, who would not come in under these words. Scotland Yard said she was not youthful, she was twenty-one, and the Majority Report says that she was of full age and well able to take care of herself, a woman of quick perception; Collins and Clark said the same. She was not youthful, inexperienced or ignorant, and therefore she would not come under these words and get protection, and Scotland Yard are to judge in the future as in the past.

In the only case we know of, the test applied by the regulation proves to be inoperative. If the regulation does not protect a person like Miss Savidge, whom on earth does it protect? What a very minute proportion of the population it does protect! What an infinitesimal proportion of the population who are likely to be witnesses come under it! It will be said that all this will be altered, that Scotland Yard will be reformed and will not do these things in future. How do we know that? Why should they be reformed? The Majority Report does not censure them. It censures the system, but in any case the system will not be altered until after the Royal Commission has reported, and that may not be for two or three years. Consider the words "youth, inexperience or ignorance." What does the word "ignorance" mean? I should like, if I may, to address this question very closely to the noble Earl upon the Woolsack. Ignorant of what? The suggestion is, I suppose, that it applies to somebody, who, in the view of Scotland Yard, is almost illiterate, or something like that? But that is really no protection. What it ought to mean is ignorance of the law, ignorance of traps, ignorance of the pitfalls of cross-examination, ignorance, for instance, of the kind of danger that I shall illustrate.

Miss Savidge said that in the course of the interview at Scotland Yard she was asked a question, a very important question as it turned out, and very vital, and she said: "No, they were not." That apparently did not suit Collins and, according to Miss Savidge, he then hustled her and said: "How can you tell?" and that sort of thing. Whereupon, hustled in this way, she said: "Well, so far as I know they were not." It appears that that very small and seemingly innocent change would be sufficient in itself to have acquitted on a charge of perjury the two police constables and, conversely, to have implicated Miss Savidge and her character. She did not know that. Who would know it? How many of your Lordships would know it? Certainly I would not for a moment, and I do not think that 2 per cent. of your Lordships would. The first point that I want to put to the noble and learned Earl is that these words are really meaningless unless they are put in to make the regulation operative. I do not think that is the intention, but as they stand they will have that effect and, if they are to carry out the recommendation of the Majority Report, there ought to be a definite rule that all witnesses, or practically all witnesses—there may be a few exceptional cases and perhaps the Royal Commission will go into that point and indicate their view—practically all witnesses (I am not now speaking of prisoners) should be warned if they are likely to implicate themselves. That is really what the Majority Report recommends, and I think that it would be in accordance with the English view of justice.

It is no use saying that these are only interim proposals and that it does not matter because the Royal Commission is going to report. Probably they will not report for two or three years, and in the meantime what is going to happen? Moreover, what is laid down now may very well have some influence on the Royal Commission and it will therefore become important. The Home Secretary said last week that if, on reading these words, it was found that they did not carry out the recommendations of the Majority Report he would alter them. I would earnestly appeal to the noble and learned Earl to look into this matter. I really think I am on very strong ground here. I am not asking him to commit himself, but merely if he will look into it and see whether, as a matter of fact, what the Home Secretary says has been carried out.

I only want to add this. In the first place there is a recommendation that a woman police officer should be present when a young woman is being examined on questions affecting morals. I want to make this point. Although both Reports recommend that, I do not think it goes far enough, because a woman police officer is not really any protection. I think there ought to be present either the witness's solicitor, or a relative or friend. Then there is the question of shorthand reports being taken of interviews. The law papers, and especially the Law Journal, are very strong on that point, saying that the statements ought to be taken down verbatim in shorthand if possible, and that if no official shorthand-writer is present, the witness should have the option of bringing in a civilian shorthand-writer. I dare say this rule could only apply to examinations in police stations, but I hope the Royal Commission will pay careful attention to that point.

The final point that I wish to touch upon is whether it is a proper thing, in a case like this, where the police are being charged with something like perjury, for the examination to be conducted by other police officers. The question was raised by Lord Olivier in a previous discussion. The Lord Chancellor did not commit himself, but he seemed to think that probably the procedure was not objectionable. Many people think it is, and that in these cases there ought to be a different procedure, because it is a curious thing—misgivings on the point have not been allayed by this case, but on the contrary—the Minority Commissioner says that in every case where Miss Savidge says she was hustled into changing her words, the change would have been one which would have helped the police officers to get an acquittal on a charge of perjury. I hope also that the Commission will go into the question of complaints, and that as a result there will be set up some advisory committee at Scotland Yard, to which complaints can be made by the public from time to time. If Parliament had not been sitting the Savidge case would probably never have come to light. I cannot see what objection there is to the course that I have suggested, and I see strong reasons in its favour Finally, I know that if one begins talking about justice and liberty one is told that it is all perorating and sentiment and so forth. Justice is a great thing but I think also liberty is a great thing. The principles of justice and liberty do not really conflict, but if they do, or if they appear to conflict, or in so far as they conflict, I think that the principles of liberty ought to prevail. I beg to move.


My Lords, I have listened with great interest to the noble Lord who has just addressed the House. I was at first a little puzzled as to the exact purpose he had in view in moving his Motion, although I do not for a moment complain of his action, and I have no desire to make any comment on the fact that a Motion of this character has been brought before the House. It is undoubtedly a matter of importance and therefore very properly debatable in this House. Nevertheless, I am a little troubled to understand the object of many of the observations which have been made. The purpose that I have in addressing your Lordships can be accomplished in a very few minutes.

That the public conscience was seriously shocked by the occurrences as reported in regard to the Savidge case—I am referring particularly to the incidents of the fetching of Miss Savidge in a motor car, and of the long examination which took place, and then the issues which arose as to what actually happened—is beyond question. It is not a matter of anxiety to one Party alone in the State. All political Parties, so far as I am able to judge from all I have been able to read on the subject, were seriously disturbed, because they did regard the facts as they appeared as a very distinct attack upon the freedom of the ordinary citizen and as an assumption by the police authorities of a right of interference with the liberty of the subject in a manner which challenged the public mind. I remember that the moment the facts were known and were brought before the House of Commons, a very definite and clear statement was made by the Home Secretary, who took the view that if the facts as stated were true they reflected very gravely upon the conduct of the police. In that he was expressing the views of all sensible men who gave thought to this subject. There was a doubt—more than a doubt, a very distinct conflict—between Miss Savidge and some of her witnesses and the police officers concerned, as to what actually had taken place, and the Home Secretary, on behalf of the Government, took a course which I should have thought was the only possible course for him to take—he referred the matter to a Tribunal, in order to ascertain whether or not the statements of Miss Savidge were to be accepted as correct, or whether the police officers had told the truth.

I will only make one observation upon the Tribunal. I have not the slightest intention of throwing the remotest doubt upon the motives which have actuated the members of the Tribunal in the Reports that they have made. I do think, in a case of this character, sneaking for myself, that I would have preferred that a Tribunal appointed for a purpose of this kind, to inquire into questions of fact and to come to a conclusion upon them, should be a Tribunal which really had nothing whatever to do with political Parties. I do not for a moment suggest that it is because of difference of political views that the Commissioners have differed. On the contrary, I happen to know all the members of the Commission, and certainly Mr. Lees-Smith, who was at one time a colleague of my own in the House of Commons, was, I am sure, actuated by nothing but the highest motives, and has done what he considers, and what I think must be regarded on all sides, however much one may differ—if one differs—from his conclusions, a public service in expressing his opinion, and in not fearing to express it, notwithstanding that he was in the minority. As a member of the Tribunal it was his duty to do so. The only reason why I refer to political Parties, is this. I am not suggesting it, but there are some people who think that if he had belonged to another Party he might have taken another view. I am perfectly certain that that is not correct. My only object in making this reference is to give effect to the opinion that I hold, having studied the Report very carefully, that, although I do not myself accept the Minority Report, I nevertheless am quite convinced that not only was Mr. Lees-Smith stating what he honestly thought, regardless of any political conviction he might hold, but it was his duty, and it was a public service, that he should state the conclusions that he reached.

That does not for one moment mean that one must accept them. The difference of opinion which resulted in two separate Reports being presented is a thing not unknown on the Judicial Bench. Judges who have heard cases differ among themselves, and it is therefore the less to be wondered at that, in the special conditions of this case, there should have been a difference of opinion. But how are you to arrive at a conclusion, and what is the conclusion you must accept? Are we, after a Tribunal of this kind has sat and heard the evidence and expressed its view, to adopt the views of one member as against the majority? For my own part I say without hesitation that I would, in a case of this character, pin my faith to the opinion expressed in the main by the President of the Tribunal, who happens to have been—and was no doubt selected because he had been—a Judge, and a Lord Justice of Appeal, who was known throughout his career at the Bar to be as fair-minded an advocate as you could possibly get, and who on the Bench gave examples daily of judicial fairness and balance.

I am not saying that his view alone is to prevail, but when there is a conflict, I confess, as the result of my own experience, that I prefer on a question of facts the view of one who has sat for many years trying these questions, seeking to arrive at a just conclusion. And when I find him supported by another member, and, so far as I can judge, with nothing in the evidence which would entitle one to disregard his findings, I do myself accept the view of the majority. But even if I had not that regard for this ex-Lord Justice, I should feel that the only safe anchorage I had, when a Tribunal had sat to inquire, was to accept the view of the majority. I do not propose to discuss this case itself. The noble Lord, Lord Arnold, at first indicated that he did not intend to discuss it, but eventually certainly he did.


I said we had to decide.


It is not much use discussing except for the purpose of arriving at a decision. All I desire to say is that I should have thought that this particular case has now served its purpose most fully, and I think has been extraordinarily useful, inasmuch as it has roused the public mind, it has given rise to discussions in Parliament, it has led to the appointment of a Tribunal, it has led also to alterations of regulations, and it will be followed by a Royal Commission, which is to examine the whole question. And I do not deny that the Savidge case did not stand by itself. It was a peculiar case, but it came at the end of a number of instances, in which at least (I will not say more) the public mind had been rather stirred by the reports of the events that had been happening. I think that really in justice, and even in mercy, to the lady concerned, Miss Savidge, we might drop that particular case, and proceed to deal with changes which will obviously have to be made.

Having said that, may I come to that part of Lord Arnold's speech in which he dealt with the observations made on the practice of the police. I am not sure that I differ from him at all upon that, although I may perhaps express myself in slightly different language. I think that the public generally was very shocked at the statement that appeared about the motor-car. I doubt very much whether any one of your Lordships did not share that view when you read what had happened. The Commission are unanimous in condemnation of the practice, so that there will be no difficulty about that. I should have preferred that the Majority Report had condemned the practice a little more strongly. I think it is quite unwarrantable and, so far as I am aware, a novel practice. In the days when I knew more about these matters I am quite sure there was no such practice as is now stated to prevail. But at the same time it has also been found that what happened was in accordance with the practice. If so, undoubtedly the practice must be changed, and very rapidly changed. Again, with regard to that I do not think there can be a difference of opinion.

I do not propose to discuss the particular changes to be made, more especially as a Royal Commission is going to inquire into the matter, but I do feel very strongly on one other matter on which I think the vast majority of the public will also be agreed. That is that the length of the examination which took place when the lady was being interrogated seems very extraordinary for the purpose of merely ascertaining the facts that were required to serve justice. Here was an examination taking approximately four hours. It cannot be satisfactory that an examination of that character should be taken down and recorded in such a way as happened in this particular case. No one can possibly hope to record accurately from memory, or even from merely writing down after some questions, what has been stated by a witness; at least, no one can be quite sure that there may not be some misconception regarding it. Again, I shall not travel into the discussion as to which was right. I have already said that I accept the view of the majority of the Tribunal. But this is a matter which must be examined with care, and I say that with the knowledge that there is to be a further Inquiry. In view of the statement which has been made that a Royal Commission is to sit to consider these matters and to examine what is to be the procedure in future, I see very little advantage in discussing in detail the various suggestions which might be made. I prefer to leave those matters at this moment and to await the findings of the Royal Commission.

I feel that this case, and the incidents connected with it, undoubtedly aroused the public and caused apprehension as to the conduct of the police. I also think that when we are examining and when we are, perhaps, judging, we must not altogether lose sight of the difficulties which the police have to encounter and the responsibility which lies upon them. Although obviously they must be extremely careful of the way in which they perform their duties, equally, I think, we must be a little careful before we condemn them, and especially before we so hamper them and tie their hands that it may be made difficult for them to further the course of justice and to ascertain facts in the future. No man who has had experience of the administration of justice will fail to realise the danger of power used by the police for the purpose of making an examination which is not legitimate. But in any regulations that are framed, and in any criticisms that we pass, it must be remembered that confidence in the police is of extreme importance. It is just as important, I think, as that the police should have confidence in the public. One can hardly exist without the other. I trust, as a result of all that has happened in this case, that the recommendations of the Royal Commission and the various alterations that may be made will restore the confidence which the public has had and will place the police in a position of greater confidence with the public.

I would make only one observation upon some references that were made to the police officers in the case. I do so not because I want to travel into the case but because I think it is fair to Chief Inspector Collins that it should be made. I am not sure that he was mentioned by name but references were made which must apply to Chief Inspector Collins. He happens to be an officer who is very well known. He has been for very many years in the public service and has earned a very high reputation. It occurred to me when he was under criticism that it should be borne in mind that Mr. Johnston, who moved in this matter in the House of Commons and initiated the debate there, was present in court and heard the whole Inquiry. This is what Mr. Johnston said in regard to it in another place and, if I may say so with respect to him, it did him great credit. He began by saying— We believe it is the system which is wrong; we ask for no penalisation of individuals. I agree; I think the system is wrong. Then he went on to say— I want to say this perfectly frankly, that I went to that court with a very strong prejudice against Inspector Collins. I sat in that court from first to last, and I formed the conclusion, and I think I ought to say so here, that he seemed to me to be the average type of decent citizen, who would as readily, and more readily, operate a humane system than the contemptible and atrocious system which he is compelled by his duty to superior officers, and by established practice, to perform. That is a personal tribute to Inspector Collins and a condemnation of the system.

I feel also I must say this in reference to an officer of very long experience, the Public Prosecutor, who has also been criticised severely. He is so well known, certainly to those engaged in the administration of justice, that he would hardly require any testimony from me. He has been criticised in regard to a letter that he wrote. I do not find myself inclined to pay much attention to the grammatical error, nor, I presume, do your Lordships. But I think that the statement he made at the end of the letter was a misconception and might be assumed, undoubtedly, to convey the suggestion of greater powers in him than he actually holds. Here again, apart from any criticism and apart from the language, I think we must be wary of using any strong expressions regarding one who is a very well known and very highly respected officer—the Public Prosecutor. I cannot refrain from giving my testimony, as the result of my long experience of him, that I think it would be very difficult indeed to find an officer who carried out his public duties with greater candour than Sir Archibald Bodkin has done throughout the years during which he has held the office of Public Prosecutor.


My Lords, I propose to reply very briefly to the Motion made by my noble friend opposite because the matter has already been dealt with by one who, I suppose, has had more experience than almost any one in your Lordships' House. I have to say that the Government absolutely agrees with the position that has been taken up by the noble Marquess. The Tribunal, of course, heard all the evidence in the case. It examined the witnesses, on such points as it was thought necessary to examine them upon, and it had the advantage of observing their demeanour under examination and cross-examination. That is very usually said in these matters and it is absolutely true. Neither your Lordships nor myself have had that advantage. The noble Marquess has laid it down that it is usual on these occasions when a Committee of Inquiry is set up to accept the findings of the majority; and I can only say that the Government accepts without hesitation the conclusions on this point which have been reached by the majority of the Tribunal.

It is the more ready to do so from the fact that this Report is signed by so eminent an ex-Judge as Sir John Eldon Bankes and by a solicitor of such experience and learning as Mr. Withers. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing thanks on behalf of the Government to the three Commissioners who were so willing to undertake an unpleasant task and who performed it with such fidelity. This Report, in the clearest possible terms, exonerates Chief Inspector Collins and Detective Sergeant Clark from any suspicion of improper conduct, and it is gratifying that officers of such long service and excellent records should have been so completely vindicated. Chief Constable Wensley and Superintendent Savage are also acquitted by this Report of any blame so far as their personal action in the case is concerned. The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Reading) has already referred to Sir Archibald Bodkin, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and it is unnecessary for me to say more in that regard.

I may say a few words about a point raised by my noble friend opposite with regard to the instructions which have been issued by the Home Office. It is difficult, as the Tribunal recognised, to frame instructions which will be of general application, and, as has been said, all these matters will be presented in their proper perspective to the large inquiry to be instituted, but the Home Secretary felt, in view of the definite expression of opinion in the Report of the Majority, that it was desirable that some instructions of a provisional character should be issued forthwith. They are provisional and they will cover the exceptional type of case with which we are now concerned. The Commissioner of Police fully concurs in this view, and the Home Secretary accordingly has instructed him that in any case in which—to use the words of the Majority Report—a witness's own character or reputation is the matter chiefly involved in the inquiry, and where the consequences of making a statement may be gravely to his or her prejudice, the matter is to be referred to the central office at New Scotland Yard before any steps are taken to obtain a statement, and that detailed instructions should then be issued to the officer told off to take the statement.

These instructions, while framed to suit the special circumstances of the particular case, shall ensure that in any event the witness will be clearly informed before the statement is taken of the nature of the statement required, and, "where the person's youth, inexperience or ignorance makes it desirable," of the possible consequences involved to him or her in consenting to make it. Those are new words. The words "where the person's youth, inexperience or ignorance makes it desirable" have been inserted in the instruction to give effect to what was in the minds of the Tribunal. The Tribunal were investigating the circumstances of a special case, and the recommendation of the Majority Report can only be interpreted as having reference to cases such as Miss Savidge's where the circumstances make it desirable that special safeguards should be provided.

In the absence of these qualifying words, the police would be bound by a rigid instruction which would have very far-reaching consequences. The police are called on to investigate cases affecting persons of mature age and judgment who are fully aware of the consequences which may ensue to them from any statement they may make. If the police were compelled to give to this class of person the warning in the exact terms suggested by the Report, such a warning would be liable to be construed as a studied insult. It would, in fact, amount to suggesting that there was something in the character or conduct of the person warned which might make it undesirable for him or her to come forward as a witness and to be exposed to cross-examination in the witness-box. Such a suggestion would be strongly resented, and if the police were required to give this warning indiscriminately in all cases they would be placed in a most invidious position, and their action would give rise to justifiable complaint. The Commissioner has, however, been instructed that these qualifying words shall be given a very liberal interpretation.

As regards Recommendation (iii) of the Majority Report, instructions have also been given that in cases where a statement is to be taken by male officers from any woman and it appears that it may be necessary in so doing to put to her questions of an intimate character, this is to be done in the presence of a police woman or matron, unless the person making the statement expressly requests that no woman shall be present. As my noble friend opposite did not raise any point about the recommendation relating to the place at which statements should be taken, I shall not go into that.

The position of the Government is that they accept the Majority Report, as indeed they were bound to do, and they have every intention of drawing up the terms of reference to the Royal Commission sufficiently wide to enable every consideration to be given to the questions to which I have referred. My noble friend Lord Reading said something about the duties of the police. I was Chairman of a Police Inquiry which lasted for six months and I had to draw up at the end of it a Report. It was somewhat to this effect: We have been considering throughout this Report the duties of the police to the public but there is another point of view and that is the duty of the public to the police. It is the duty of the public to come to the assistance of the police in every way they can by giving evidence and by coming forward to help them. It is the bounden duty of the public to do so, but unfortunately the public, although they are willing to run to the police for advice and for help in every possible way, are somewhat reticent in coming forward when it is a question of helping the police in a prosecution. I do not think it is necessary for me to give the House any figures, but I may mention that in the Gutteridge case some thousand persons had to be examined. These police officers, who are protecting us from crime which would otherwise be so prevalent in this country, have a very difficult task to perform. We pride ourselves on the justice of our Courts. We know it would be absolutely useless to take any case into Court if the witnesses were liable to break down or if the case could not be substantiated. Therefore, though we may think the police are occasionally liable to err, we must remember the difficulties of their task and also think of the duty which the public owe to the police as well as the duty which the police owe to the public.


My Lords, I think this debate has been well justified both on account of the speech which we have just heard from the noble Lord opposite and, if I may say so, in a more especial manner, the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, who himself occupied for a considerable time the position of Attorney-General. The directions to the Public Prosecutor ultimately come from the Attorney-General, or are made upon the authority and responsibility of the Attorney-General. From that point of view I will refer later to something which the noble Lord opposite (Lord Desborough) said.

I desire to refer first to the extremely important speech made by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading. The noble Marquess, with all his experience—there is no one in the country who has the same amount of accumulated experience—designates what took place in the present case as quite unwarranted. That is a very strong statement, but I believe it is fully justified. I am not for the moment concerned with the points where the Minority Report finds one way and the Majority Report the other way. I understood him to make that statement on the admitted facts, facts which were admitted and which in the first instance created an extraordinary amount of public interest in the country and not an inconsiderable amount of public alarm. What does he say next? He said, I think quite accurately, as regards Mr. Lees-Smith's Report, that it is not a pleasant thing—no one knows that more than the noble Marquess himself—in a matter of this kind to feel it a duty to make a Minority Report such as Mr. Lees-Smith has made. I entirely agree with him, not only in recognition of the valuable character of that Report, but in what I think he stated, that where a member of a Commission holds views such as those held by Mr. Lees-Smith, it is his duty and it is his obligation—it is not a question of choice at all—to make a separate Report such as Mr. Lees-Smith made.

The noble Marquess also incidentally, when he was dealing with the character of the Tribunal, told us what we probably all know—at any rate all lawyers know—that it is not unusual even for three eminent Judges of His Majesty's Courts to come to a majority and a minority conclusion on questions of fact. I am sure he will not disagree—because I know how large his experience is and I, in my time, have had a very considerable amount of experience—when I say that, although I agree that there is a case in favour of accepting the findings of the Majority Report, it is by no means unusual if there is a court of appeal to find that the views of the minority on questions of fact in complicated matters of this kind are upheld against the majority. On one point I must say I agree with the noble Lord opposite, Lord Desborough. After an Inquiry of this kind I do not see myself how the Minister responsible for police matters, the Home Secretary, could have taken any other course than that of accepting the Majority Report. I do not think anyone doubts that. It was a difficult matter. But what my noble friend Lord Arnold pointed out was that the court of appeal in a case of this kind is public opinion, and although these matters—I am not going into them in detail any more than the noble Marquess did—will have to be settled as regards regulations by subsequent procedings, I feel fairly well satisfied that whatever Tribunal ultimately considers them will give very great weight indeed—I will not go further than that—to the opinions expressed in the Report of Mr. Lees-Smith.

I do not want in this matter to go back at all to what has now become a historical question. I want to look at the future. In regard to the treatment which Miss Savidge received I agree with Sir John Simon, who asked what would any of us think if our daughters were subject to treatment of that kind. The only excuse that I can find, in fact the only excuse, I think, which the Majority Report finds, is that the usual and ordinary procedure was followed and that nothing exceptional was done in this case. Of course, that finding tells two ways. If this is not an exceptional but the usual form of procedure, then it is of the utmost importance that regulations should be laid down after the most careful and serious study, because what has been the result of this ordinary procedure? It has been an unwarrantable result, an unwarrantable interference with a particular individual both as regards the system and as regards the manner in which the system was applied.

There is one point on which I should like to ask the noble Earl's opinion. It appears to me most important. We know that where it is a case of a criminal or a suggested criminal there are very precise Judges' orders, very carefully considered, as regards the method to be pursued. We also know—that is everybody who has any cognisance of criminal trials knows—that unless those methods are pursued, proper cautions administered and proper questions asked, the evidence is always held to be not allowable and inadmissible. In this case, although Miss Savidge and Sir Leo Money were not directly implicated from the criminal standpoint, because we all agree that they are fully entitled to the benefit of their acquittal, yet in substance Miss Savidge was really subjected to what we should call a severe cross-examination. What reason was there for that? As I understand it, the evidence sought to be obtained was referable to the question whether certain proceedings, particularly proceedings for perjury, should be taken against particular officers. That is a very different thing from what may operate in the case of a mere mistake in a case of this kind. Wilful and corrupt perjury is a very serious offence, but are you entitled, when you are seeking to get evidence (as I understand) to substantiate a case of wilful and corrupt perjury, to cross-examine a witness, the cross-examination being directed to her credibility and to her character? I do not believe that is right at all.

I think that exactly the same procedure ought to be adopted whether it is a question of the police or of any member of the public. I would not treat the police in any way worse, I would not for a moment suggest particular suspicion, but on the other hand, looking to the position they hold and the position of inspectors and people of that kind, I think the public ought to have this protection, that the procedure adopted where a question of police action is involved should be precisely the same as it would be in the case of any private individual in the same circumstances. I really cannot imagine procedure exactly of this kind in the case of a private individual. The ordinary course would be that the depositions would be taken of particular witnesses. Those depositions would be considered and certain questions might be asked as regards their reliability and their recollection. That is a different matter. There is no such procedure known to law, in my view, as that which was embarked upon when Miss Savidge was subjected to this extraordinary and long-protracted cross-examination.

I only want to say one thing more, but it is on a matter which I think of great importance. I entirely agree with the remarks of Lord Desborough and I do not wish to get into conflict with him. Of course it is the duty of the public to help the police, as it is the duty of the police to protect the public. I dare say that he is aware, as he has been sitting as Chairman of the Police Committee—it could have no better Chairman; I may say that quite sincerely—of the Report made by Lord Bowen some years ago. Lord Bowen was the Chairman, and my noble friend Lord Haldane, who I am sorry to say could not be here to-day, was a member, and the Report concerned the duty of the public. If the public do not perform their duty they are themselves committing an offence against the Common Law of this country. I think there is no doubt about that. The language in which it is expressed by Lord Bowen was not only extremely wise but entirely convincing.

The only other word that I have to say is that I hope that the words of Lord Reading and Lord Desborough will be really considered. We are dealing with an action which is quite unwarranted unless you plead usual practice. That is independent of whether the Minority Report or the Majority Report is accepted as regards the evidence on the one side or the other. I cannot help feeling—perhaps it is a wrong thing to say—that I am glad that officers of long experience were exonerated. I am glad if it is so, although I think few people have been more hardly treated than Miss Savidge and, merely as a member of the public, I cannot help feeling that there is great weight in the justification of her which we find in the Minority Report of Mr. Lees-Smith, which will have to be most carefully and thoroughly considered before any regulations are ultimately made. I do not want to say more, but I think that as regards the future we must leave matters open.


My Lords, I desire to direct your Lordships' attention to one point and one point only. I believe it to be a point which goes rather to the root of the present troubles in connection with the Police Force. Every member of your Lordships' House who has taken part in this debate has emphasised the uneasiness which undoubtedly does exist in the country to-day. That uneasiness, I believe, comes very largely from distrust not of the police but of the system. It is felt that the police are victims of the system which they now have to administer. What the country wants in its police is that they should be guardians of law and order and not, as there is a tendency now for them to have to try to be, censors of public morals. I believe it is very generally felt, and I am bound to say that I sympathise with this feeling, that the alleged offence which is supposed to have been committed in Hyde Park by the two persons who were found not guilty is not an offence which the police should be expected to take cognisance of unless somebody should have been annoyed or injured by the commission of it. It does seem to me to be putting the police in an entirely false position to expect them to judge as to whether or not an offence has been committed if no member of the public has been annoyed.

It is rather interesting to observe that there has been a change quite recently in the regulations governing Hyde Park. It is an illustration of the system into which we are drifting, and I venture to say to your Lordships that it is a point which requires close attention. Under the former Act under which the Hyde Park regulations were issued, the regulation ran thus:— No person shall commit any act in violation of public decency or use profane, indecent, or obscene language to the annoyance of other persons using the park. This obviously implies that there shall be some lay corroboration of the fact that there has been an offence and that somebody has been annoyed by it. That Act was repealed in 1926, and the present regulation runs as follows:— No person shall sit, lie, rest or sleep on any seat or any part of the park in an indecent posture or behave in any manner reasonably likely to offend against public decency. I say that this is putting an absolutely unfair onus on the police, and in addition it is leaving the matter in a position in which the persons accused of these offences may find themselves liable to be tried and convicted on police evidence alone. I am not throwing stones at the police when I say that I consider this to be an entirely undesirable position.

I had occasion to put that point before your Lordships some eighteen months ago when I asked your Lordships to give a Second Reading to the Public Places (Order) Bill, which your Lordships consented to do. The result was the appointment of the Macmillan Committee on Street Offences which has not yet issued its Report. This does illustrate, I think, very well the point which I wish to make, that it is the system more than the actual behaviour of the police which requires careful examination. We have now been promised a Royal Commission and, of course, I welcome this whole-heartedly. On the occasion of the discussion of the Public Places (Order) Bill I suggested to your Lordships that a good tribunal would be a Joint Select Committee of both Houses. I suggested that a Departmental Committee was not the best Committee to examine that matter, and I think that what has happened since has gone far to justify the suggestion that I made. The Government, however, thought otherwise and appointed a Departmental Committee. On that account I am the more delighted that we shall have a Royal Commission, and I only wish to emphasise that confidence in the police cannot be restored until that Royal Commission shall have been appointed and shall have reported, and that it is most important that it shall consist of persons of sufficient weight, authority and, I should like to add, courage to see and recommend the rather drastic changes which I venture to say are necessary.


My Lords, may I say one word of explanation? I am told that I said that I was glad that the police officers had been exonerated. I meant by that that I am always pleased that officers of that kind should be exonerated. I did not mean to say that I thought they ought to be exonerated, which would be quite a different matter.


My Lords, I think it would be well if I were to begin by saying what I am not going to deal with. I may say at once that I am not going to deal with the general conduct of the police, nor am I going to make any attack upon the conduct of the police. I agree with all the observations that have been made as to our owing our freedom, our comfort and our safety in big towns to the police, and that we have to give them the support they deserve in return for the protection that they give us. Least of all, as I need not say, am I going to attempt to try again the Hyde Park case which was disposed of by the magistrate. I propose to confine myself to the question of what took place at Scotland Yard.

Before I come to that question perhaps I may say a word about the letter of the Public Prosecutor, Sir Archibald Bodkin. I cannot help thinking, as I have no doubt Sir Archibald himself now thinks, that the letter was unfortunately worded and unfortunately phrased and that probably that sentence at the end about taking other steps was liable to misinterpretation. Sir Archibald said upon oath that what he meant by it was simply what he had said—namely, that he would have to take other steps, that is to say, if he could not get evidence from Sir Leo, he must try and get it in whatever best roundabout way he could. I think that all of us who know the Public Prosecutor will entirely accept his explanation of what he meant, and that is why I confine myself to saying that the letter was unfortunately worded.

The noble and learned Marquess, Lord Reading, may recollect that many years ago he was a member of a Royal Commission, under Sir David Brynmor-Jones, which sat upon the conduct of the police and before which I had the honour of appearing as advocate against the police, and of making somewhat serious charges, some of which I am glad to say, for the sake of my own reputation, the Commission found to be not without foundation. I was opposed before that Commission, on behalf of the police, by Mr. Bankes, as he then was, and Mr. Richard Muir. I am not saying that for the purpose of suggesting in the least that Lord Justice Bankes was an unfit person to preside over this Tribunal, or that an incident of that kind is likely to prejudice the mind of a lawyer, but the question is: What view has the general public taken of the decision of the Tribunal? I think it was Lord Reading who said that the decision of the Tribunal must be accepted. If he means by that what the noble Lord opposite has said, that it must be accepted by the Government, and officially accepted, I agree, but if he means that it must be accepted by the public at large I am afraid that the question is not must be accepted but will it be accepted and has it been? I think the quotations which my noble friend behind me read go a long way to show that it has not been accepted, but that it has been regarded by the general public as another case of whitewashing where whitewash was thought to be necessary.

But whitewash is poor protection against rough weather, and I think it is unfortunate that that should have been the view which is left upon the public mind. Had the Tribunal found, as indeed the majority do find, that Miss Savidge was not telling the truth, well it is of no real consequence, except to her own character, whether a young London girl is telling the truth or is committing perjury, but it is of immense public importance whether two well-known and trusted Scotland Yard officers are committing perjury. That is what the public are interested in, and if the Tribunal had succeeded in persuading the public, and in persuading me, that that was not so, no one would be more pleased than I should be. The same facts and considerations appeal differently to different men, and I think it right to say, quite frankly, that after a review of all the circumstances and all the incidents, with a full sense of responsibility, the effect left upon my mind is this, that either consciously, or, as I think, with unconscious bias, these police officers of Scotland Yard were anxious to break down the case against the Hyde Park officers for a prosecution for perjury; but whether that be so or not I remain satisfied in my mind that they did adopt, and did practise, many of those improper methods to which Miss Savidge deposed, and I am afraid that the public remain satisfied of that too.

It means that these two officers, in order to cover their mistake, due in the first instance to excessive zeal, have since committed wilful and deliberate perjury, and nothing can be more unfortunate than that the public should have been left with that impression, and that after it has taken place it has been whitewashed. I wish, no one more sincerely, that I could be satisfied that it had not taken place, but the effect left upon my mind is exactly the contrary. I am going to give your Lordships one or two reasons from the Report for thinking so, and I fear I may have to detain you on questions of detail. I think it is right to say that I do not share the objection of Lord Parmoor to the severity of the cross-examination of Miss Savidge, or to the investigation into her own character. Anyone who has anything to do with criminal trials and prosecutions for perjury, where questions of credibility and the oath of one person against another arise, knows very well that those who are responsible for a prosecution must produce witnesses who can stand cross-examination and whose characters will bear the most searching investigation.

Under our system of justice it is the right of counsel for the defence to endeavour to discredit witnesses for the prosecution, and it is therefore the duty of the person responsible for launching a prosecution to satisfy himself that his witnesses will stand cross-examination. He can only do that by the most minute investigation into the very things into which counsel for the defence will inquire. Still more is it the duty of a person of high office like Sir Archibald Bodkin, and I cannot make complaint at all of the searching nature of the inquiry; but of the method in which it took place I have very great reason to complain, and also of some of the incidents in connection with it, and I am not reassured by the fact, which appears to have impressed the Commission, that Inspector Collins has been commended so many times, has done such good work and has appeared in so many cases. It was precisely that which in my view had made him careless and indifferent, and had produced on his mind the impression that he could do just what he liked with a witness.

Let us see how the investigation was set on foot. First of all he saw the Public Prosecutor in the morning and in the afternoon went and made inquiries, as directed, at Hyde Park Station. He could perfectly well, if he had wanted to, have telegraphed to the local police station and told the sergeant to warn Miss Savidge that he would call and make inquiries. She would then have had ample warning and an opportunity of having present her mother, or a friend, or her solicitor or anybody she desired, but he did not do so, and he did not the next morning warn her, nor did he go there. It was not until the afternoon that he went, on account, as they say, I dare say correctly, of the inability of the policewoman to attend. He then set out without warning to the works where Miss Savidge was employed, and suddenly this girl of twenty-two was told: "You have to go to Scotland Yard." Do you suppose that she realised that she had free will to say: "I will do nothing of the sort." Your Lordships might do so, but not a girl in the position of Miss Savidge.

Then, to quote from the Report:— Sergeant Clark told him"— that is Mr. Saxe, the welfare worker at the works— that an inquiry was being held that afternoon at Scotland Yard with regard to the circumstances attending the Leo Money case, and he would be pleased if he would let Miss Savidge go with them. Mr. Saxe told him that the request was rather unusual, but Sergeant Clark impressed him with the urgency of the case …. They had waited from the morning until the afternoon, so it was not so terribly urgent. The Report continues:— … he sent for Miss Savidge … Sergeant Clark told Miss Savidge that there was an inquiry that afternoon at Scotland Yard with regard to the Leo Money case, and he would be pleased if Miss Savidge would go with him to Scotland Yard for the purpose of that inquiry. Now I characterise that statement as a deliberate lie. There was no inquiry being held that afternoon for the purpose of the Leo Money case. What was desired was that evidence should be taken from Miss Savidge.

Why was she being brought to Scotland Yard on that sort of statement? What impression would it have produced upon your Lordships? Your impression would be that a tribunal had been set up to take evidence and to hear witnesses. It was an absolute and deliberate lie, and I think it reflects upon the Majority Report that they do not comment more strongly than they do upon it. Nothing was said about Miss Savidge making a statement or being examined. And then the Report goes on to say:— We are also satisfied that … she had no notion of what the nature of the interrogation to which she was to be subjected was … Those are the circumstances in which it began. Now you come to the actual thing that took place at Scotland Yard, and what I have asked myself is this, and I ask your Lordships to put the same question to yourselves: Is it likely, is it credible, that Miss Savidge could have invented—because there is no other explanation, there is no question here of a mistake—those things which she said too place; could have invented the sitting side by side, could have invented the arm being put round her, could have invented all this story about the tea-party? She might possibly, although it is unlikely, have invented those statements which she said were put to her. The Majority Report goes on to say that— they are not to blame because, and only because, they were following what is apparently the established practice of Scotland Yard. The Majority Report may be right in that. I dare say that may be true as to the method in which she was brought there. If that is so, of course, one would acquit individual police officers of individual blame, but it makes the blame upon the system of Scotland Yard all the greater.

I want to come to some of the statements as to what took place there. This is one of the things that Miss Savidge says:— He kept getting hold of my arm, and he said 'My dear Irene'—like that. When I think of it now—well!—". I do not believe that that was a deliberate piece of perjury on the part of this girl—that she invented this story, and told it before the Tribunal after she had had time for reflection, and when she knew she would be cross-examined about it. It seems to me contrary to the usual thing that one is likely to believe. And a little later there is another thing. This is from the Report of Mr. Lees-Smith: He just got me by the arm; he came round that side to me, and said, 'My dear Irene, are you quite sure of this?', and he looked me straight in the face. As Mr. Lees-Smith said, the Scotland Yard officers denied everything, probable and improbable, except, I think the use of the word "Irene." I can only say that these things have different effects on different minds.

Then there is the statement made by the police that Miss Savidge had said "he had kissed me several times before the policeman came up." What did the police say about that?— Chief Inspector Collins asserts that he never put her any question on the subject of kissing at all, but that she volunteered the statement of her own free will. His account of her statement, in his examination-in-chief, is as follows:— 'He did not put his hands up my clothes', she said, and then she paused for a second and said: 'He had kissed me several times before the policeman came up.' And later in his cross-examination:— Q. Then what did she say?—That before the police came up he had kissed her several times? A. Yes. Q. Did she volunteer that without being asked at all? A. She did. What sensible man is going to believe that? I can only say that on my mind it leaves no doubt at all that this is an illustration of what I am afraid too often happens in these cases. The police do the best they can. They are out, as indeed the Majority Report said, only it says it in very euphemistic language, to take the line of least resistance in getting the evidence. Those, I think, are the words of the Majority Report. They do get the evidence, and they get it in this way.

What happens is that as a rule it is all right, nothing is heard of it, and if it is an investigation of a criminal case, it is probably very useful, it very likely helps to convict a criminal, and it leads to one of those commendations by the Judges. But when any question is raised, when the attention of the Home Secretary and of Parliament is focussed upon them, the police, it seems to me, so often adopt the attitude that what they have done must be right and must be defended at all costs, and considerations of the actual truth are apt to be thrown to the winds. I regret that, but I think it is so. If I had been allowed on the occasion which the noble and learned Marquess remembers, to address the Tribunal as well as merely calling evidence before them—and it is twenty-five years ago now—I should have suggested that the methods of Scotland Yard were at that time far too military. Whether they have been changed I do not know. We had evidence given there by the police themselves about the way in which a complaint of the public was dealt with. A man writes to Scotland Yard and says: "I have to complain of grave misconduct on the part of a policeman." Scotland Yard sends the letter to the District Commissioner, or whatever he is called; he sends it to the Superintendent, the Superintendent sends it to the Inspector, the Inspector sends it to the Sergeant in charge of the station, and the Sergeant in charge of the station puts it before Policeman X, and says: "Make your report on that." He gets his report on it. It goes to the Sergeant in charge of the station and then through this, that, and the other official, back to Scotland Yard, and Scotland Yard then says: "After full inquiry we find there is no case." Now that method of conducting police business will not do, and it will have to be changed, and I am very glad that a Royal Commission is to be appointed to inquire into it.

So far as this individual case is concerned there may well be an end to it. It cannot be carried further. It is most unfortunate that the Tribunal took two different views. It would have been equally unfortunate if they had taken the view unanimously—which is my own personal view—that the police were guilty of these charges, because one regrets such findings against the police. I make no general charge against the police or their conduct, but I do think that there has grown up a great deal too much laxity in their method of dealing with witnesses, and a great deal too much of what I may call the heavy hand to which they were used in the War, and to which in the War they were very properly entitled, and that the time has come to return to the standard of civilian liberty and the discretion which is required of a civilian force in dealing with civilians.


My Lords, four members of the Official Opposition on a day which, I agree, exhibited competitive attractions, found it worth while to be present at the debate to-day. Three of them have indulged your Lordships with their views. Two, Lord Arnold who introduced this subject and the noble Earl who has just sat down, have made lengthy contributions. I am still wondering why the Acting Leader of the Opposition thought it necessary to intervene in the debate. His contribution was reported to me. I cannot discover that he added anything which had not already been said by Lord Arnold, and it was an illustration of a habit, very regrettable, I think, and not very polite, of making a speech in this House, attacking people, and then immediately disappearing. I should have thought, with the greatest possible respect to the Official Opposition in this House, when out of four Labour Peers who have been able to attend this debate fifty per cent. made an admirable contribution to our discussions, that if another twenty-five per cent. felt it necessary to say what, as it was reported to me, did not carry the matter very much further, he might have at least have stayed to hear the reply.

Now I come to the merits of the debate, and I have no complaint to make of anything that has been said, though I have some criticism of a great deal that has been said. I will begin at once by answering those who advance the position that, when Parliament has appointed a Commission of Inquiry, with the assent, be it observed, of all the Parties in the State, including the Party to which the noble Lords belong, it is a reasonable procedure when they have reported to resume the discussion as if nothing at all had happened. Something very considerable has happened. The noble Lords made no objection—how could they?—to the composition of this body. Lord Justice Eldon Bankes, I think, for some sixteen or seventeen years was one of the Judges of the High Court who enjoyed a reputation for impartiality and competence exceeded by no one of his colleagues. He then presided with unrivalled dignity in one of the Divisions of the Court of Appeal for many years, and it is an open secret that, had he desired it, his long judicial labours would have been rewarded by a seat in this House. Nowhere could you find a more impartial man. Nowhere could you find a man who was so little infected, if I may use the word, having regard to the implications of this debate, by partisan prejudices.

Associated with him was one of the leading members of the other branch of the profession, and the only tribute I need pay to Mr. Withers' position as a solicitor is that he sits in the House of Commons to-day as the representative of Cambridge University and is universally recognised as being one of the wisest and most sagacious and one of the most experienced members of his branch of the profession of the law. These two gentlemen sat on this Committee. It is one on which the services, the ability and the experience of lawyers are most specially required. Mr. Lees-Smith, to whose public spirit and courage I pay the fullest tribute, shares with the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, who introduced this subject to your Lordships' attention to-day, the disadvantage for this purpose of not being a lawyer. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, in my young days at the Bar, though I fear he has since abandoned the practice of his profession, was already establishing a great reputation in motor-car cases. He has not, I think, addressed his admittedly great intelligence to questions of jurisprudence since those early days.

Having appointed the Committee, with the assent of the Party to which noble Lords opposite belong, without a word of protest offered as to its constitution and with the admission that their representation upon it was adequate, we are asked to dismiss its conclusions. Because the noble Lord was not upon it, he comes and tells us that he has made up his mind quite plainly that the majority were wrong, and we are asked, as I say, to dismiss its conclusions. We are to start all over again. It is quite simple. How logical! Let us appoint another Committee. Let us appoint a Committee of three more and then if they decide in the opposite sense some other noble Lord, it may be from this side of the House, will rise and say: "The majority is entirely wrong; I am in favour of the minority." And we will appoint still another Committee and so on ad infinitum. There never was such a ridiculous reductio ad absurdum of the whole system of appointing a Committee accepted as adequate by all Parties in another place and here, when your Lordships, who have not heard the evidence, who have not been in a position to judge the demeanour of the witnesses, are invited to set aside the two men of the highest experience and the highest reputation.

I say, in the sure and certain knowledge that your Lordships will support my view, that I found myself and I propose to found myself for the purpose of the few observations I have to offer upon the conclusions reached by the Majority, the experienced Majority, and not upon the conclusions reached by the comparatively inexperienced Minority. When I am met by the observation that the Majority have not given reasons and that the Minority has given reasons, I reply by saying that it may be better to give no reasons at all than to give inadequate reasons; and I find many of the reasons given in the Minority Report to be extremely inadequate. That being so, I approach the subject upon the basis that your Lordships, on the whole, will be prepared to accept the conclusions reached by the Majority; otherwise, there is the complete negation as I said, a reductio ad absurdum of the whole system of Inquiries of this kind.

If we accept those facts, what do we find? Let us consider for a moment how far there is any real ground for criticism. Errors, in my judgment, there were and I will make them plain where in my opinion they exist. But I think it proper to say that. I do not know of any case in recent days which has been projected into a more hysterical perspective than this case has been. There was a case not very long ago in which a retired Major in the Army was accused of accosting women while in a state of intoxication in a well-known London thoroughfare. He was convicted by the magistrate. He appealed to the Sessions, and he was completely exonerated before the Sessions presided over by a very distinguished Judge, who stated that the Major left the Court without the slightest suspicion remaining upon his character. He was compensated. That is one class of case. But if I may be plain, that is not this case. I cannot think that either the noble Lord who introduced this topic to-night or those equally belonging to his Party who pressed it upon the attention of another place—I cannot believe that they have done a welcome or an acceptable service to the two persons principally involved in this Inquiry. I need hardly say that I accept most absolutely the conclusion of the magistrate that these two people were innocent of the charge which was brought against them. Nevertheless, inasmuch as this subject is raised, inasmuch as even in the moderate speech of the noble and learned Earl who has just addressed the House he has thought it proper and necessary to affirm his opinion that the police in this case committed perjury, I find it entirely necessary, as one who at this moment is speaking as representing the Home Office and, therefore, bound in a proper case to protect the police, to make certain observations in a very plain sense.

I would, in the first place, say this. If an elderly man takes a young girl thirty years younger than himself to lunch in a restaurant in Soho, a girl not belonging to the same class of life, not sharing, as one may surmise, his intellectual and economic interests, and sits in close proximity to her in Hyde Park; if there takes place between them, as, accepting the evidence of the police as I do accept it, we must assume there took place, some caress of a kind which was distinguished by the young lady herself in her evidence as being a kiss but not a kiss of passion, have they very great ground for complaint if a policeman forty of fifty yards away misinterprets the precise nature of the caress? It may be very difficult at a distance to be sure of what is taking place. After all, do not let the noble Lords delude themselves. It is not my habit to frequent Hyde Park at disreputable hours. I am, therefore, not in a position to give your Lordships actual experience or advice. But I am informed that there is no park in Europe in which so much indecorum can be witnessed or can be nightly observed as can be witnessed and observed in Hyde Park.

To the police we assign the terribly delicate and difficult task of correcting it, and, in proper cases, of bringing it before the magistrates, and while, as I have said, I fully accept the vindication which the magistrate has given in this particular case, I do not see any justification for the state of hysterical indignation which has been shown because two people most indiscreetly have placed themselves in a most equivocal position which was misunderstood by witnesses whom I shall ask your Lordship to say were entirely honest and doing their best. I have derived the greatest pleasure throughout my life in seeing young people enjoying themselves. At the same time, with all the disparities of situation which I have explained, when an acquaintanceship which I accept as entirely innocent is maintained in these somewhat unusual and almost Bohemian circumstances, misunderstandings are very likely to arise and when they do they cannot seriously be complained of by those who are affected. And to do them justice those who are principally affected have not, in my judgment, been very forward in making these complaints. Those who have made the complaints, often I think as volunteers, have in my judgment done these people no inconsiderable disservice.

I now approach the point of the examination of this young woman at Scotland Yard. While listening to the noble Earl, Lord Russell, I did not understand his indignation because a statement was made to her that an inquiry was going to be held at Scotland Yard. An inquiry was going to be held at Scotland Yard. It was held. If the noble Earl was told to-morrow that an inquiry was going to be held in some matter in which his conduct had attracted the attention of the whole country the noble Earl would understand perfectly well what was meant. We have it from Lord Arnold and from the Report that this young woman was a woman of quite unusual sophistication and experience in the affairs of the world, and when she was told that an inquiry was going to be held does the noble Earl think she did not know what that inquiry was going to be about?


I do not know whether the noble Earl realises he is now attacking the Majority Report. It suggests that the position was entirely misrepresented.


I do not think that is really so. The noble Earl read the words, and I did not so understand them. At any rate, if the Majority Report said so then the authors of it certainly showed their complete impartiality, because on this point they were wrong. It is unquestionably true that an inquiry was about to be held, and the only people from whom statements could or ought to be taken were Sir Leo Money and the police and this very sophisticated young woman and Miss Egan. Neither of these young women, I think, was lacking in experience of the world. I put it in that way without offence. It seems to me, when they were told an inquiry was going to be held, it is incredible to suggest they would suppose they themselves were not going to be invited to contribute something to that inquiry. Where does the grievance come in? I will be quite frank, as the Home Secretary has been. I think it was a great mistake that an inquiry of that kind should have taken place in the absence of any woman friend or of any woman policeman. I do not agree with Lord Arnold that you must have a solicitor there.


If the noble Earl will allow me to interrupt him: what I said was that in the case of an investigation or inquiry affecting the morals of a young woman there should be a solicitor or a relative or a friend present.


I do not disagree with that; in fact that is the substance of the new regulations; and the very introduction of those regulations proves that the Home Office and the Government have realised that in this matter the inquiry had elements which ought not to be repeated and which we do not justify. That is the public service which this matter has done. The noble Earl (Earl Russell) and the noble Lord (Lord Arnold) have both spoken almost with indignation of the fact that this young woman was addressed by her Christian name. Well, I do not know what the habits of noble Lords are.


I did not say a word of complaint about her Christian name.


I thought the noble Earl did. It must have been Lord Arnold, unless the noble Lord, Lord Parmoor, travelled on that field. If the noble Earl reads the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow I think he will find that he read and quoted with suppressed emotion a statement about the young lady having been addressed by her Christian name.


I may have read out something from the evidence about the Christian name being used, but I did not make any complaint about Inspector Collins using her Christian name. I thought it too trivial.


Knowing the noble Earl so well, and his complete appreciation of the relative importance of argument, I had acquitted him in my mind of reading anything he did not think important, but if the noble Earl, with the short time at his disposal, did quote something which he now says was not important he must forgive me if I select it for a passing commentary. Lord Arnold on the other hand was distressed about this—




I do not know what that means. The noble Lord says to call a young woman by her Christian name is symptomatic. I can assure the noble Lord, if he will take it from me as one who has no small experience in this matter, that the practice of calling young ladies by their Christian names has, since the War, become very common in all sections of society. There is nothing alarming about it. The noble Lord's morality need not be in any sense disturbed by it. On the other hand, I should have supposed these police officers were putting the young lady at her ease, and I would suggest to the noble Lord that he might attempt that method himself some other time in a similar difficulty.

I would add this in a more serious vein, that you must consider what the police have to do in these matters. You must really definitely range yourself either on the side of constituted authority or among those who are willing, perhaps for quite inadequate reasons, not so to do. Your Lordships know well that there is a great section of this community, numerically astonishingly large, which is ranged in lawless and criminal practices. It is directed in many cases by brains of considerable power and range, and it contains many most violent and dangerous criminals. The wits of that class are always being matched against the wits of our police force. The whole Constitution and protection of society depends upon the adequacy of the intelligence by which the forces of order confront the forces of disorder. How are these things done. The Commissioner, with well justified pride, pointed to the fact that in the last year hardly a great criminal mystery had failed to find its solution, hardly a murderer had escaped his fate. It is the fact, of which I have satisfied myself, that in almost all those cases involving an amazing triumph for law against crime, the extent of that triumph can only be measured by those who study the comparable conditions in the United States of America.

Almost everyone of those cases had involved some 200 private inquiries by the police of persons who could assist by giving evidence, and, although I, too, think of the exact form of the letter of the Public Prosecutor that had he not been overworked it might have been expressed more happily, I find it my duty to say that the Public Prosecutor served under me and no more meritorious public servant could be found assisting to administer justice in this country. He has already in the course of his career, advised personally, and I know with how deep a sense of personal responsibility, in 18,000 prosecutions. This is the very first time in which, on quite inadequate grounds, his discretion or his judgment has been called into personal question, and the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, actually says he doubts whether he ought to continue to hold his position. I am certain that on reflection the noble Lord will see that he has done a most grave disservice to a public servant who cannot defend himself and on whose behalf only those can speak who have known the value of his great services to society over a long period of years.

Consider what this matter involves. It is very easy to say that you are to go to a man whose evidence you invite on behalf of the police and in the course of justice, that you are to go to him and ask him what he is able to contribute. Let us clear our minds. Is it a duty to give that help or is it not a duty? Most obviously it is a duty which lies upon every law-abiding citizen in this State if he is appealed to by constituted authority to give every information in his power. The idea that the police are to caution everyone to whom they go in their necessary and zealous search for knowledge is ludicrous to those who know the facts. Why, the Judges themselves laid down a code in nisi prius judgments, with a wealth of judicial authority which could not be exceeded, and they most expressly laid down in that code that the police were entitled to make inquiries of any person whose answers in their judgment might make easier the course of justice and elucidate the inquiries that were in process of being made. The Judges laid it down that only if the police suspected at the moment the inquiries were made, that the person to whom these inquiries were addressed might be guilty in the particular matter, were they to add a caution.

Then the noble Lord lightly says: "You must give such and such a caution." Well, he has really not thought about the advice he has given to the House. Ninety-nine per cent. of the people who are approached to give information and who give it are as absolutely innocent as the noble Lord. Suppose the noble Lord happened to be strolling across Hyde Park and suppose he witnessed, as I hope he will not, some indecorous scene and a policeman approached him for confirmation of something which the policeman also thought he had observed; suppose he began addressing the noble Lord by saying: "I warn you—you may be in this business before it is over; it may be a serious thing against you, but I want to have your statement," what would the noble Lord say? It is not the noble Lord's suggestion, but the suggestion has been made that the police are not entitled to go to people without special warning in each case and ask them to tell them what they know to aid the course of justice. That claim I must absolutely repel. I say we have covered the point completely in the new regulation which the Home Secretary has passed.

The noble Lord said it is impossible to tell what ignorance is, and he invited me to give him information on that point. I should be very sorry indeed to attempt to define in abstracto what ignorance is, but I know ignorant people when I meet them, and I am perfectly certain that the police on their part would find no difficulty at all, within the phraseology used in the amended order, in seeing to it that persons who are not absolutely normal in any matter in which they themselves may become involved should receive special warning. More than that, it seems to me, cannot be asked for, more than that ought not to be given. The matter, as the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, said in his speech, is to be examined by a Commission. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has welcomed the idea of that Commission as, I think, the noble Earl, Lord Russell, has done. Surely we may leave until that Commission has reached its conclusions, the further ventilation of a subject which has been far too much discussed.

But I must add this, that the charges of perjury against the policemen involved in this particular case I most absolutely repel. I do not think that they ought to be made, irresponsibly made, as they have been made, and with levity, in the face of the Report of the majority of this Commission. It is a weakness of this country—whether it be the result of the Press I do not know—but it is a weakness in this country that if a particular injustice actually arises, or is even suggested, we receive intensive treatment of it and exaggeration of it in the Press. It is raised in another place, whose handling of this subject did not appear to me to be distinguished by any particular degree of coolness, and immediately we find wholly exaggerated and excessive denunciations of the police. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves if we make ourselves a party to any such denunciation of the police. There exists in London alone, in the Metropolitan Police Force, many, many thousands of men and there is no finer, no more honourable, no more honest and no more courageous force of men in the world. To say, as the result of the reactions and repercussions of a case like this, that the public are losing their faith in the police—these, my Lords, are the murmurings of imbecility.

The noble Lord, Lord Arnold, said more than once: "I do not know what the majority of the Commission say, but I do know what the great public is thinking." By what medium of communication does the noble Lord tap the great public? He gave us indeed a great number of Press cuttings, but I had hoped that the noble Lord would have by far a larger sense of his own responsibility as a very experienced legislator and a Peer of Parliament than to go to the Press for impressions on such matters, and to go to the Rothermere Press and the Hulton Press, as he inaccurately described it, as channels for these impressions. Surely the noble Lord can look around at life himself, survey it and form his own judgment. I say that my judgment of public opinion is as good as the noble Lord's judgment. When I think what the public thinks as it goes about its business every day, when it sees the admirable manner in which the police regulate traffic, and the way in which the police conduct an old woman or a child is assisted across the street, when I remember the days in the great strike when some of the more ebullient members of the noble Lord's Party were attempting to deny to the nation the right of daily sustenance and the police were called upon to sustain the charge of mad and unlawful strikers, I am reminded of those verses in which Rudyard Kipling placed on immortal record the difference between the War and the pre-War estimate of the qualities of the British private soldier. I say that it is the finest Police Force in the world.

To say that there are no black sheep in it would be to say what I could not say of the Army, of the Navy, of the Law, of your Lordships' House, and possibly of another place, though lest I should be accused of an unparliamentary attack, I will state that qualification in a very limited fashion. Of course there are black sheep in every flock, but I say that, if you take it all in all, if you take the good with the bad, the obligations under which we and the whole of our ordered liberty and civilisation stand to the police cannot be exaggerated. Let us keep a clear perspective. Do not let us be moved by one incident, which is not a very good one for the purpose, into irrelevant and exaggerated views.

I do not complain in any way, nor does the Government, that this debate has been raised, and the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, if he will allow me to say so, raised it in a speech, for him, of unusual moderation. The noble Lord is so sure of himself, he sometimes seems to me so unaccountably sure of himself, that I listened with great pleasure to the observations with which he introduced this subject to-day, and I hope that he will not think that I on my part fail to recognise that he has raised a serious subject. I think that his purpose has already been obtained, because I am satisfied that the Commission will most carefully examine the arguments that have been used in another place and by noble Lords in this House, together with both the Reports of the Tribunal.


My Lords, literally I will not detain your Lordships for thirty seconds, because at this hour I do not think it would be right to deal with all the various points raised, although much could be said in reply. In the circumstances I ask leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at a quarter past seven o'clock.