HL Deb 08 August 1966 vol 276 cc1582-4

My Lords, again I beg leave to ask Her Majesty's Government the Question of which I have given Private Notice—namely,

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any further information to give regarding the efforts of the police to trace and interview Peter Louis Alphon.


My Lords, in my reply to the debate on August 4 on the noble Lord's Motion about the case of James Hanratty I referred to the unpleasant telephone calls which the noble Lord and others have received, and which he believed to have been made by Mr. Alphon. I then said that continuous, renewed and vigorous efforts were being made by the police to trace the man in question but that he had not yet been found. I am sorry to learn that this statement was based on information which was not up to date. I am now informed that Mr. Alphon had, in fact, been interviewed by a police officer at the office of his solicitors on August 2, but unfortunately this officer's report was not submitted in time for me to be notified of this development before the debate on August 4. The officer's report has now been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and it would therefore be inappropriate for me to make any further comment on it at this stage.

The officer's inquiries are continuing. He is again interviewing Mr. Alphon at the solicitors' office this afternoon. May I again express my great regret at having given your Lordships information on this matter which was not correct?


My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for his Answer, and may I say that I am sure he appreciates that of course everyone realises that when he spoke he had not this information. May I ask him whether it is now proposed that the evidence available should be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions?


My Lords, as I said in my original Answer, the report to which I have referred has already been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for his consideration.


My Lords, now that we have heard the Answer, would the noble Earl the Leader of the House not agree that that was a perfectly ordinary, personal explanation and statement by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and that in future such a statement should be dealt with as such, in accordance with the proper procedure of the House?


My Lords, I would certainly not agree that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has done anything improper. If the House held that he had, it would be my responsibility and the apology should be forthcoming from me. If, on reflection, this view is held by the House, then let the apology come from me.


My Lords, as all this fuss has been made about a perfectly simple Question, may I be allowed to explain that I had the greatest co-operation from Lord Stonham, and it was at his suggestion and with his agreement that this Question was put. I hope that the next time I try to do the same thing I shall not be treated in the same way.