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Column 412"We are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Dunne's evidence that the gunman was not Latimer, and that the gunman was much smaller in height than Latimer, is incorrect and that, in truth, Latimer was the gunman. We are so satisfied because, for the reasons we have already stated at length, it is clear that Witness A's evidence of seeing Latimer dressed in civilian clothes getting into a landrover in Lonsdale street was true. The arguments that her evidence as to what she saw in Lonsdale street is true and is not a wicked concoction are, in our opinion, unanswerable. In addition, for the reasons we have stated, we are satisfied that Latimer's confession given verbally and in writing on the night of 2nd-3rd December 1983 was not an untrue confession made by a man pressed into making it by improper pressure from the police and by a desire on his part to get away from Castlereagh police office. It is clear that his confession was a truthful confession made by a man who realised the game was up."
That concludes this passage from the judgment.
Mr. Maginnis : Will the Secretary of State, before leaving that point, admit that four other accused, including Warton, made confessions clearly admitting their part in the killing, and that the trial judge dismissed the case against Warton when he discovered that the accused had been so emotionally pressurised that he was encouraged to write his last will and testament? In the wake of all this, Warton cried with emotion because he thought that he would never get out of prison in his parents' lifetime, and he was persuaded to sign a confession.
Will the Secretary of State concede that such pressure on people who are used to obeying those in authority--none more so than soldiers--is totally intolerable, and negates any value that a confession might have?
Sir Patrick Mayhew : It is not a question of conceding. It is not for me to defend or uphold the judgment of the court ; it is for me to try to apply the criterion that has been applied by my predecessors.
As to the hon. Gentleman's factual point about confessions made by the other defendants, what has been said is broadly true, and I certainly do not dispute it tonight. As I have indicated, I have to consider whether there is something new by way of evidence--evidence that has not previously been before the court. I remind the House that this has already been referred to the Court of Appeal, where each of the points already alluded to by the hon. Gentleman was made by counsel on behalf of Mr. Latimer and was rejected by the court. My reason for setting the matter out in such detail so far is that I think it important that the House should hear the basis on which the trial judge initially convicted Mr. Latimer, among the others, and the basis upon which the Court of Appeal, while allowing the appeals of the other three, considered it safe and satisfactory to uphold the conviction of Mr. Latimer. It is not for me to substitute my judgment for that of the Court of Appeal, but it is for me to explain at this juncture how it is that the Court of Appeal argued that conclusion.
The hon. Gentleman will know that I carefully considered further representations made to me last year, about which I wrote to him on 11 January this year. The very proper purpose of the hon. Gentleman's speech tonight has been to assert that fresh material is now available which calls for a yet further reference to be made. That material comprises what are claimed in his booklet "Witness for the Prosecution" to be medical notes relating to witness A in 1964 and 1965--it has to be said, some 18 years before the events with which the case is concerned
Column 413--and a professional opinion on their significance obtained by a psychotherapist who, as the hon. Gentleman immediately made clear, had not examined witness A.
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that careful consideration is being given, as it should be, to the totality of the material to which he referred and to the points that he made in his booklet, which he supplemented in his speech tonight. He will understand that the matter has to be examined in the context of the constraints upon my power
Column 414to refer a case to the Court of Appeal, which I have already described this evening. He will know that I cannot yet express a concluded view.
However, the hon. Gentleman has my assurance, and I am glad to give it, that the matter is being carefully considered and will be considered with the proper care that it requires and deserves, as will be the points that the hon. Gentleman has made tonight. I undertake to communicate with the hon. Gentleman as soon as possible as to the result.
Question put and agreed to.
Adjourned accordingly at half-past Twelve midnight.
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