Oscar Slater and Sir A. Conan Doyle

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Oscar Slater and Sir A. Conan Doyle is an article published in the Daily Mail on 13 september 1929, including a part of an interview with Arthur Conan Doyle.

Oscar Slater and Sir A. Conan Doyle

Daily Mail (13 september 1929, p. 11)

Piquant Quarrel.

Author & A £250 Debt.

Slater's Report.


The Daily Mail learns that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author, is seeking to recover £250 from Oscar Slater, the man who was sentenced to death in Glasgow in 1908 for the murder of a woman, and afterwards reprieved.

Slater, who was sentenced when there was no Court of Criminal Appeal in Scotland, served 18 years' imprisonment. Last year, after a special retrial had been ordered, he was released, and afterwards he was paid £6,000 compensation.

Sir Arthur fought an untiring campaign on Slater's behalf from the time of his conviction until his liberation.

Sir Arthur told a Daily Mail reporter yesterday that he had intervened in an action for damages in which Slater is at present engaged in Edinburgh, and had asked the court if, in the event of Slater winning, they would hand over £250 to him as a debt due. He continued:

Before Slater's trial could be reopened last year I had to guarantee £1,000 towards the cost. After he was released raised a subscription among Jews amounting to £700. This left 13110, for which I was liable.


When Slater received £6,000 compensation and a great deal of money from newspapers I asked him to pay the £300, but with incredible, monstrous ingratitude he refused. So that after 18 years of fighting for his release, during which time I wrote a book for which I got nothing, he landed me in the position of having to pay £300.

Fortunately I had his letters to say that I should not be the loser if he was released. When I learned that Slater was likely to get damages in an action in which he is now engaged, I put in a claim for £250, taking £50 off the sum that is really due to me.

Slater is not only under a legal obligation to refund this money, but, what is far more important, he is under a moral obligation. I worked for him for 18 years and did not get a penny, and then he, having made the money he has, refuses to pay me what is due to me.

He was not a murderer, but he is an ungrateful dog. I think the Scottish nation should pay this money. It was their bad administration which was responsible for the mistake which sent Slater, an innocent man, to prison for 18 years.

I am disappointed in Oscar Slater, but perhaps his brain has been turned.