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Courts Martial

Volume 478: debated on Monday 18 September 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for War why it was necessary in the recent courts martial at Colchester for the charges to be kept secret, thus causing public speculation about their nature which was unfair to the accused particularly in view of the fact that nationals of another country were brought in to give evidence; and if he will ensure that on all future occasions the charges are made public.

In this case the specific charges and the evidence adduced to prove them contained information which could not, and still cannot, be made public for reasons of security. Accordingly the specific charges and evidence could not be given in open court and the court was satisfied that, in the interests of justice, the trial, including the arraignment, must therefore be held in camera. The military authorities cannot, of course, themselves decide that a court martial is to be held in camera. This can only be decided by the court itself on a submission to them that certain information essential for the proper trial of the case cannot be made public. I have no doubt that courts martial will continue to decide to sit in camera only with reluctance and if they are convinced that they must do so in the interests of the administration of justice.

asked the Secretary of State for War what were the charges against 22192278 Gunner L. Budgen, X Troop, 210 Battery, 94 Observation Regiment, Royal Artillery, who was court-martialled on 1st September in Germany; and if he will make available a summary of the evidence and the findings of the court.

asked the Secretary of State for War to state the charges on which Riflemen Eric Smith and James John Connolley were sentenced at a court martial at Colchester on 20th August.

The specific charges cannot be made public for reasons of security, but as the Press have been informed the charges relate to malicious damage to property.