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British Subject, France (Detention)

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 2 April 1952

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43.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will inquire into the circumstances under which a British subject, Miss Roberta Simpson, was detained in a French gaol for seven days, and was subjected to indignities inconsistent with accepted procedure; and what steps were taken to inform the British Consul of Miss Simpson's arrest.

I received a full report from Her Majesty's Consul at Nantes about this case on 24th March. Miss Simpson, who entered France on 3rd August, 1951, was arrested at Azay le Rideau on 18th March on the charge of not possessing the permit required by all foreigners whose stay in France exceeds three months. Her Majesty's Consul was informed of the arrest by the French authorities in a letter dated 19th March, and at once made appropriate inquiries. Miss Simpson was brought to trial on 25th March, sentenced to seven days' imprisonment and immediately released. I have no information about the indignities to which my hon. Friend refers but if she will give me particulars, I will look into the matter further.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask whether he will call for the newspaper report in last Sunday's "Sunday Dispatch" in which the lady concerned writes of her experiences? Would he then take steps to make representations to the French authorities on the subject?

The lady concerned made no kind of representations either to the consul at the time or to anyone else. If I receive any authoritative information from any source, I will gladly look into it, but on the facts there is no case for such an inquiry.