Edalji Case. Letter from Sir Conan Doyle
Edalji Case. Letter from Sir Conan Doyle
Letter from Sir Conan Doyle.
To the Editor of "The Daily Telegraph."
Sir — While the friends of Mr. George Edalji rejoice that his innocence has at last been admitted (though in the most grudging and ungracious fashion), they feel that their work is only half done so long as compensation is refused him. It is clearly stated in the report of the Committee that: "The police commenced and carried on their investigations, not for the purpose of finding out who was the guilty party, but for the purpose of finding evidence against who they were already sure was the guilty man."
The result has proved that be was not the guilty man, and this inversion of all sane methods upon the part of the police has given untold mental agony to himself and to his family, has caused him to undergo the ordeal of the double trial, the three years of incarceration, and an extra year of police supervision. Apart from the misery which has been unjustly inflicted upon him, he has been unable to exercise his profession during that time, and has been put to many heavy expenses, which only the self-sacrifice of his relations has enabled him to meet. And now, though all these results have been brought about by the extraordinary conduct of the police, and the stupidity of a Court of Quarter Sessions, the unfortunate victim is told that no compensation will be made him.
The position is absolutely illogical and untenable. Either the man is guilty or else there is no compensation which is adequate for the great wrong which this country, through its officials, has inflicted upon him. It is hard, indeed, that such compensation should be drawn from the pockets of the taxpayer. It might well be levied in equal parts from the Staffordshire police, the Quarter Sessions Court, and the officials of the Home Office, since it is these three groups of men who are guilty among them of this fiasco. But since there is no means by which those who are responsible can be forced to pay, it lies upon the conscience of this country to do what is just in an endeavour to right this grievous wrong. Could anything be imagined meaner or more un-English than that the mistake should be admitted reparation refused.
The Committee, while setting right the other faults both of the police and of the court, have, unhappily, stated "that they are not prepared to dissent from the finding of the jury," that the letters of 1903 were in the writing of George Edalji. Their cautious phrase means, I take it, not that they are by any means convinced that it is so, but that they have not sufficient evidence to enable them to contradict it. I do not know how the matter was laid before them, but I will undertake in half a hour, with the documents before him, to convince any reasonable and impartial man, that George Edalji did not write, and could not possibly have written, those letters. Of that I am absolutely certain, and there is no room for doubt whatever. Not only the character of the writing, but the internal evidence of the allusions to people and things, which were beyond his knowledge, show that he was not the author. Since the letters accused him of the crimes it is impossible to imagine how, save on the supposition of insanity (of which there has been no evidence in his life), he could possibly be imagined to have written them. On this subject of the letters I should like, with your permission, to deal further at some length on a future occasion.
As soon as possible after the holidays a meeting will be called of the committee appointed to administer The Daily Telegraph Fund. As this money was subscribed for legal expenses, and none have been incurred, the committee has not felt justified in spending it on any other object, and it is still intact. After the meeting the course of action advised by the committee, which consists at present of Sir George Lewis, Mr Horace Voules, Professor Churton Collins, Mr. Jerome, Mr. J. Hall Richardson, and myself, will be laid before your readers. — I am, Sir, yours truly,
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.