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United States Prosecution (Police Inquiries)

Volume 531: debated on Thursday 28 October 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assistance has been rendered by his Department to the United States authorities in the collection of evidence against Mr. Owen Lattimore.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what requests for assistance in securing evidence against Mr. Owen Lattimore have been received from the United States Government; on how many occasions police have been supplied with his authority in order to question British publishers in order to obtain such evidence; and under which international agreement police assistance is supplied in such cases.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent help and co-operation have been given by the Metropolitan Police and by the Home Office to the United States Government in the case of Mr. Lattimore; and whether he will make a full statement on the matter.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he gave his approval to recent investigations by police officers involving the examination of British publishers at the request of the United States State Department and with the co-operation of staff of the United States Embassy.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what statute or authority police officers, either alone or in company with United States officials, questioned British publishers about their association with Professor Owen Lattimore.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what form the request for investigations to be made into the relations between British publishers and Professor Owen Lattimore was made by the United States Government.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assistance was given to the United States authorities in obtaining in the United Kingdom information likely to be used in the prosecution of Mr. Lattimore; and by what authority such services were rendered.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what requests for help the United States authorities have made from the police of this country in collecting evidence in the case of Professor Owen Lattimore; and what reply has been given to such requests.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department at whose request inquiries have been made through his Department into the writings of Professor Owen Lattimore; and if he will publish the correspondence on the subject.

At the end of September last, New Scotland Yard received a request on behalf of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation to obtain certain information in connection with the prosecution of Mr. Owen Lattimore on charges of perjury. The request was for the names and addresses of witnesses who could testify as to the numbers of copies which had been printed of certain books and articles written by Mr. Lattimore and others, and published in this country, and the names of the countries in which these writings had been placed on sale. A police officer saw the principals of two publishing houses to ask for this information, and was informed that neither of the firms concerned was prepared to allow any of its members to give evidence. The reply of the publishers was communicated to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.These inquiries were made by a Metropolitan Police Officer, who saw the publishers personally; no American official was present. There was however another occasion in 1952 when, in response to a similar request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a police officer introduced a representative of the American Embassy to the principal of one of the publishing houses concerned, and remained while the United States official asked some questions about the publication by this firm of a book with which Mr. Lattimore had been concerned.There is a standing arrangement whereby the police in this country assist the police of any other friendly country in making inquiries in criminal cases. The arrangement is reciprocal and has on many occasions proved advantageous to ourselves. It does not depend on any formal international agreement and does not require statutory authority.The action taken by the Metropolitan Police in this case was so much regarded as a routine response to a request for help from the police of another country in the investigation of a criminal charge that the matter was not brought to the personal notice of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, nor was the matter reported to the Home Office. It will be seen therefore that the Home Office took no part in these inquiries. I have given instructions which should ensure that in any comparable case which might arise in future no action will be taken by the police in this country until there has been an opportunity for the matter to be considered at a high level.