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Court-Martial Findings (Confirmation)

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 1 April 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for War if he will arrange for the publication of a statement of reasons on each occasion when a confirming authority fails to confirm the findings of a court-martial.

I do not think that it is desirable that this should automatically be done since in many instances the reasons derive from legal advice which is privileged, and there would also be objection if a re-trial were contemplated.

Would the Minister not agree that when a court-martial is held in a blaze of publicity and the officer or soldier is found guilty and sentenced, it is very undesirable that some time afterwards there should appear in the Press a short notice to the effect that the confirming officer has refused to confirm the finding without any explanation as to whether it was due to some technical defect in the trial or because some new evidence had been forthcoming? Is it not highly desirable that the reasons should be given when a trial has been given much publicity?

As a principle to cover all cases it is most undesirable, but so far as individual cases are concerned I am prepared to consider the matter.