Mr. Edalji's Pardon

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Mr. Edalji's Pardon. Views on the Home Office Decision is an article published in the Daily Mail on 20 may 1907, including an interview of Arthur Conan Doyle about the Edalji case.

Mr. Edalji's Pardon

Daily Mail (20 may 1907, p. 3)

Views on the Home Office Decision.

Is it Logical?

The decision of the Home Office to grant Mr. George Edalji a free pardon but no compensation has aroused much criticism.

Mr. Edalji himself asks: "Is it logical that a man who has suffered three years of the agony of penal servitude and then been given a free pardon should be denied some compensation? I shall consult Sir George Lewis and shall demand an apology and compensation. It is grossly unfair; but as I am getting justice step by step I hope that the compensation will be made."

The Rev. S. Edalji, the father, when informed by a "Daily Mail" representative of the finding of the Commission, declared himself quite satisfied with the free pardon which had been accorded to his son. That, he said, was the great thing. With the pardon Mr. George Edalji could obtain his readmission to the rolls as a solicitor, and could start in practise as assistant to a London solicitor.

"I am profoundly dissatisfied with the verdict," said Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to a " Daily Mail" representative. "It is incomprehensible to me how they reached their decision. It seems to me most unjust, most illogical, and most cruel towards George Edalji. I think it perfectly cruel and scandalous that for three weeks after a decision was reached and the report received, and knowing the state of anxiety he was in and that he was an innocent man, nothing was allowed to come out. He was kept day after day in a state of suspense.


"So far as the action of the Staffordshire police goes and the events connected with the trial, our contentions have been largely borne out by the committee. I differ from them profoundly, however, upon the question of the authorship of the letters of 1903. It was a point to which I had during the last four and a half months given a great deal of attention. I say without any reserve that they could not possibly have been written by George Edalji. Not only is George Edalji's writing that of an educated man, and the anonymous letters of an entirely different and lower character. All through they are certainly different in detail, which makes it perfectly clear to my mind that they are not from the same hand. The internal evidence is even more convincing. In the 1903 letters there are continual allusions to people and to things of which George Edalji could have known nothing. They are full, also, of the grossest bad language, whereas all the evidence shows that George Edalji has always been a decent, respectable citizen.

"On the top of all that consider that the object of the letters was to implicate George Edalji in the crime, and that such a fact could only be explained on the grounds of mental aberration, whereas Edalji has throughout the whole of this trying business shown a mental balance which has been the admiration of myself and every man brought in contact with him.

"There is to me something mean about the whole business. It was as if they said, 'Well, we cannot help giving you your pardon, but you have caused a great deal of trouble to everybody, and we will take care you get no compensation for the past.'

"Either the man is guilty, in which case nothing is too had for him, or else the English, straightforward, manly thing is to admit an error and say you are ready to repair it. But to admit the error and yet withhold reparation is contemptible.

"The matter cannot rest in the present state, and the agitation must go on until real justice has been done to this unfortunate young fellow. I wish to say that I have received every courtesy in my inquiries from the Home Office."

Professor M. A. Gerothwohl, of Trinity College, Dublin who took an active part in the drawing up of a petition on behalf of Mr. Edalji, writes that the scope of the Edalji Commission was absurdly narrow, and that the nation should insist on an open investigation of the conduct of the local police and the Home Department officials.