The Edalji Case (letter 15 august 1907)
The Edalji Case
Sir, — I observe that the Public Prosecutor has declared that there is at present no case against any other individual as being concerned in the writing of the letters for which Mr. Edalji has been punished. I would remind your readers that this does not in the least affect the fact that Mr. Edalji himself has been imprisoned and ruined over the matter without any judge or jury ever pronouncing upon his guilt or innocence. He was tried and condemned for maiming a pony, a conviction which was upheld by two Home Secretaries, and by the Home Office, but was set aside by a free pardon when investigated by a committee. Instead of the apology and compensation which should have ensued, both were withheld, on the ground that he had done something else for which he has never been tried, and which could only be explained upon the ground that he was a lunatic. To those who have made an impartial examination of the case, the second charge must seem as absurd as the first, but whereas the first was endorsed by a mistaken jury, the second is absolutely illegal and indefensible. If the mere assertion of an official can carry with it conviction and punishment, no man's liberty or reputation is secure. Let Mr. Edalji be tried for this offence, or let the charge be withdrawn and due reparation made.
As to the decision of the Public Prosecutor, it is the question of the letters which is of practical importance, since the other has, so far as Mr. Edalji is concerned, been withdrawn. I have never been asked by the Home Office to state my case against anyone on the point of the letters, nor have I ever formulated all the points, so that I cannot imagine how the Public Prosecutor could confidently state that there was no "prima facie" case, without my having had an opportunity of stating that case for myself. The obvious coarse would have been to pay me into direct communication with the Public Prosecutor, that I might urge those points which seem to me to be essential. Any case prosecuted by the Home Office must have consisted of extracts from my letters or from documents bearing upon the question of the outrages. So far as I am aware, no precise statement as regards the authorship of the letters has ever been drawn up, or could have been laid before the Public Prosecutor. I do not for this reason regard his conclusions as final. I need not say that I should be happy to draw up such a statement dealing with the letters only, if the Public Prosecutor would care for direct information as to my theory of their origin. — Yours faithfully,
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Monkstown, Crowborough, Aug. 14.