HL Deb 05 May 1965 vol 265 cc926-7

2.47 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether an inquiry will be made into the allegations of Leonard Gibson, serving a sentence in Thorp Arch open prison, that he was assaulted by officials in Armley prison, Leeds, prior to his transference.]


My Lords, we have conducted an inquiry and find that the allegations are groundless. The inquiry was made by an Assistant Director of Prisons into the allegation, reported in the Press, that Leonard Gibson was assaulted by prison officers soon after his reception. The Assistant Director of Prisons examined no fewer than forty-six witnesses. They included Leonard Gibson and Mrs. Gibson; the Governors of Leeds and Thorp Arch Prisons; the Medical Officers of Leeds and Thorp Arch, who examined Gibson in the normal course of duty, both before and after his transfer; a probation officer who is also a friend of the Gibsons; two welfare officers; nineteen prison officers and thirteen prisoners. He also received a statement from the escorting police officer.

Gibson was examined as part of the normal reception procedure by the Medical Officer at Leeds within two hours of the time the alleged assault was supposed to have taken place. He then made no complaint and there was no sign of any injury. He admits that he made no complaint at the time to the Medical Officer, nor, indeed, to any other prison official. The medical evidence, therefore, does not support the allegations, nor, apart from Leonard Gibson and Mrs. Gibson, do any of the witnesses who are not officials, one of whom was a prisoner who was in reception at the same time as Gibson and went from reception with him. The prison officers also deny the allegations. Gibson says that he would not be prepared to identify the officers he said were involved, and admits that he declined to make any written statement when the Deputy Governor invited him to do so.

It appears that Gibson, on reception, created difficulties about supplying to the officers in charge of reception answers to queries which it was their duty to put to him. Voices were raised during Gibson's objections to certain of these queries. The officers concerned explained to Gibson that they had a job to do and were trying to do it as quietly and as quickly as possible, and they state that he apologised later for the trouble he had caused them.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that I put down this Question because of the reports in the Press and, as I indicated to him, to permit the opportunity for his comment upon the allegations? May I say that I am relieved and reassured by the report of the inquiries which he has given?


My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend. We welcomed his Question, and I can only hope that the newspapers which gave such publicity to the allegations will now give equal publicity to the facts.