§ 19. Sir J. Langford-Holt
asked the Secretary of State for War why a signalman, details of whom have been sent to him, who was placed in close arrest on 6th November 1961, was not brought to trial until 29th January, 1962.
§ Mr. Profumo
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has already written to my hon. Friend and expressed regret that the period before trial was extended. This man, along with four others, was accused of the offence of rape, involving a foreign national. He was tried by general court martial and found guilty of indecent assault. Before the proceedings could take place the case demanded most careful investigation in Germany, and the attendance of local civil witnesses.
§ Sir J. Langford-Holt
I appreciate all that my right hon. Friend has said. The fact that this was a serious charge should 424 have made it all the more important for this man to have been brought to trial at the earliest possible moment. Will my right hon. Friend look into the question whether this delay of some thirteen weeks could have been shortened, and will he make sure that, as far as is possible, in future cases delays of this kind will not occur?
§ Mr. Profumo
In so far as it is possible, I, of course, give an undertaking that in all cases of this kind there will be no undue delay. I have examined the case in detail, and I am sure that the delay was not due to any lack of urgency on the part of those responsible for handling it.