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Official Commisson (Report)

Volume 127: debated on Monday 22 March 1920

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asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to the fact that a printed memorandum is being circulated to all Members of Parliament containing an account of the occurrences after the Greek landing at Smyrna in May, 1918, supplied by British eye-witnesses; and whether, in view of the grave allegations contained in this Report, His Majesty's Government will now press the Allied Governments to allow the Report of the official commission of inquiry into these occurrences to be published?

I have heard that a pamphlet such as that described has been circulated to Members of Parliament. His Majesty's Government, however, consider it inadvisable to allow the Report of the Commission in question to be published owing to the conditions under which the inquiry was conducted. As the Commission was investigating charges against the Greek Army, the Supreme Council decided that a Greek officer should be allowed to follow the proceedings, but not to vote or take part in the preparation of the Report. The Com mission, however, when it began its inquiries decided not to allow any Greek representative to be present on the ground that Turkish witnesses might be afraid of giving evidence. M Venezelos immediately protested against this proceeding on the ground that it was contrary to the rules of justice in every civilised country that charges should be investigated and witnesses heard without the accused person being allowed to know the charges and the evidence against him. The Supreme Council were of opinion that M. Venezelos's protest was justified, but before it could alter the procedure the inquiry was completed. Inasmuch as it has not been possible to communicate to the Greek Government the evidence against them, upon which the Commission's Report has been based, owing to pledges given to witnesses, the British Government think it inadvisable and unfair to publish the Report itself.

Are we to understand that the Report is not to be published because it is an impartial report?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is an impression that atrocities are visited with condemnation only when Christians are the victims, and as that is so, does it not point to the desirability of something being published?

That would be a most unfortunate impression, but even Christians are entitled to a fair trial.