§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the circumstances in which a British diplomatic official was assaulted while in Milan on official business and what action he has taken?
§ Mr. BUXTON
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that an official of the British Embassy in Rome was recently assaulted and gravely injured by Fascist officers in Milan; and whether His Majesty's Government has taken any steps to secure redress for this assault on an official representative of this country?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement to the House regarding the attack by Fascist secret police on one of the King's messengers in Milan; and whether any representations have been made to the Italian Government?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I have received a report on the incident from His Majesty's Ambassador at Rome. It appears that an attack was made at Milan on Captain Delafons, the local King's messenger, who is employed in carrying the diplomatic bag between Rome and Milan. The attack was not made on the messenger whilst he was carrying the diplomatic bag, and there is no reason to suppose that his official identity was known to his assailants. Captain Delafons was returning to his1774W hotel at night when he was called upon by certain individuals in the street to produce his papers. Captain Delafons, suspecting a trick to rob him, refused, but offered to proceed at once to the nearest police station and summoned a uniformed Carabiniere to accompany him. At the police station he produced his papers, and, having satisfied the officer on duty, he was authorised to depart. On again returning home he was violently assaulted by an individual and was knocked down and severely bruised. Captain Delafons recognised his assailant, as well as the accomplice by whom he was accompanied, as two of the persons who had first spoken to him.
His Majesty's Consul-General brought the facts to the attention of the Italian authorities, asking for suitable redress. The latter, acting with zeal and expedition, immediately took steps to arrest the assail ants. In order to bring them to punishment it was necessary for Captain Delafons to bring a formal charge. As, however, the two men made a strong personal plea for mercy and offered to make full apologies, His Majesty's Ambassador, in deference to the strongly expressed wishes of Captain Delafons authorised the latter not to prosecute. I should add that the incident occurred as long ago as 24th April. I first learned of it from the recent statements in the press, as the Ambassador, in view of the prompt action taken by the Italian authorities and of Captain Delafons' acceptance of the apology tendered to him, did not think it necessary to report it at the time.