HC Deb 21 February 1933 vol 274 cc1582-4
39. Mr. McENTEE

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office what is the alleged offence for which a gentleman holding His Majesty's Commission is under close arrest in the Tower of London; and when it is proposed to hold his trial?

40. Mr. LEVY

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office why the officer who is stated to be awaiting trial for an alleged offence under the Official Secrets Act is detained in the Tower of London and compelled to take exercise exposed to the gaze of the general public?

42. Mr. MAXTON

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office the reasons for maintaining the anonymity of the officer of the Seaforth Highlanders under arrest in the Tower of London; and for what reason this place of imprisonment is being used?


This officer is charged under Section 41 of the Army Act with having committed breaches of the Official Secrets Acts. The trial by General Court Martial will probably take place on a date early in March, subject to the interests of the officer and to the convenience of his legal advisers. He is detained in the Tower of London because it is the most convenient military establishment for the purpose, but he is under no compulsion to take his exercise at a time when he can be seen by the general public. The officer's name was announced as soon as the public interest permitted.


Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to prevent photographs being taken when the officer concerned is at exercise?


I have no power, and the authorities have no power in the Tower of London, to prevent the general public taking photographs in parts of the Tower to which they are admitted at the hours at which they are permitted to be there.


Would not it be possible for exercise to be taken in some place where he is not under the observation of the general public and subject to curiosity?


This is actually happening at the present time.


Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to prevent the recurrence of an officer either exposing himself or being exposed to the public gaze and curiosity while he is awaiting trial?


Is this the only place in which an officer can be detained, and is not it possible for this officer, while he is awaiting his charge, like any other person with a charge against him, to be allowed bail during the time?


Will my hon. Friend, in replying, say why it was not possible to detain this officer under arrest in the Aldershot Command in the usual way?


There are many reasons which render it desirable that he should be detained in London, and officers are often detained in London. It was desirable to remove him from Aldershot with a view to preparing the case, and giving him the advantage of preparing his case. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), there are, of course, only two or three barracks in London where we can. detain prisoners. Wellington Barracks are more exposed to the public eye than the Tower of London, and Chelsea Barracks are not so convenient from many points of view, especially from the point of view of the amenities of the prisoner himself. In regard to the question of bail, the hon. Member knows that all prisoners are not allowed bail, and this is not a case in which bail can be allowed.

Captain FULLER

I take it that when the hon. Gentleman says "prisoner" he means "accused"?