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Compton Report

Volume 827: debated on Monday 29 November 1971

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asked the Attorney-General whether he will refer to the Director of Public Prosecutions, for consideration, the facts stated in the Compton Report with a view to the initiation of proceedings against Ministers and others concerned with them in the United Kingdom for conspiring to commit criminal assault on internees in Northern Ireland.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman recognise that this is a very grave matter and that there is at the very least good prima facie evidence for believing that offences have been committed not only in Northern Ireland by those who have breached the law in this respect but by those who, within the English jurisdiction, arranged to do so? Will the Attorney-General not at least remove the doubt which exists in the minds of many people on this point by arranging for the matter to be investigated? Will he at some other time make a fuller statement on the subject and explain his reasons?

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the note of interrogation is set out in paragraph 46, page 12, of the Compton Report. It sets out the rules which were laid down in 1965 and revised in 1967. Nowhere in those rules are there any instructions or requirement authorising the commission of any criminal offence.

Is not this unfounded and scurrilous Question music in the ears of the gunmen?

I appreciate what my hon. Friend says, but I am answering a Question relating to criminal prosecution.

Have the Government given any consideration at all to whether the Compton findings reveal matters which are consistent or inconsistent with our obligations under Article 3 of the European Convention which, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment?

The Question to which I have directed my reply relates to the institution of criminal proceedings.