The Edalji Case (letter 11 march 1907)
The Edalji Case
To the Editor of "The Daily Telegraph."
Sir — I observe from this week's Truth, and also from the Police Review, that both Mr. Voules and Mr. Kempster, two of the warmest champions of the Edalji case, take a pessimistic view of the chances of any good result springing from the present Committee of Inquiry. I may say at the outset that neither Mr. Edalji nor, so far as I know, any one of his friends or advisers knew anything of the formation of this committee, nor of its terms of reference, until they read of it in the newspapers. Taking it as it stands, however, I am more hopeful of good results coming from it than these two gentlemen appear to be.
I think that their conclusions are largely founded upon the idea that the papers to be examined by the Committee consist merely of those official reports which have been the principal material at all previous reconsiderations of the case. This, however, will not be so. Pains have been taken that Mr. Edalji's case should be very fully represented. Among the evidence which will be laid before the three distinguished and independent gentlemen who form the Committee there will be,
1. The full statement of the case as it appeared in The Daily Telegraph.
2. The opinion of some twenty experts upon the question of eyesight and its relation to the crime.
3. An alternative theory of the outrages, with evidence in its support.
4. A considerable amount of further evidence throwing a light upon the affair.
It will be seen, therefore, that this inquiry differs very much from all preceding ones, in that it is independent and that it contains much new matter.
There are four courses, as it seems to me, any one of which the Committee may choose. They may leave things as they are though that is, I trust, most improbable. They may advise a re-trial ; they may advise a Royal Commission ; or, finally, they may advise a "free pardon" with compensation. We do not stand to lose in any case. A re-trial or Commission is what we desire. The last supposition (a free pardon) would give us at least a large instalment of that for which we are working. Therefore, on the whole, I am hopeful as to our prospects from the Advisory Committee.
We may still need all the funds subscribed, so I trust that those who have so generously supported the cause of fair play and justice will be content to leave their money in the fund until we see what turn things may take. — Yours faithfully,
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
Monktown, Crowborough, March 4.