The Slater Case (26 october 1912)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Slater Case is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Spectator No. 4400 on 26 october 1912.

The Slater Case

The Spectator No. 4400 (p. 640)

[To The Editor of the "Spectator."]

Sir, — All this talk on the part of Mr. Risk as to personal knowledge which he has of facts not known to the public and not mentioned at the trial can count for nothing in this controversy, since it cannot be subjected to cross-examination. It is mere ex parte statement, and it is obvious that many people have a strong interest in upholding that there has been no miscarriage of justice. Everything outside the facts actually adduced at the trial is really irrelevant.

Mr. Risk returns to the so-called confession. He does not seem to see that the withdrawal of the death sentence is proof positive that in the opinion of those who were in the best position to know the truth no such confession was made. If it had been, nothing could have saved a man who had avowed himself guilty of the vilest and most cowardly murder of modern times. This consideration alone should for ever dispose of this assertion.

To call the legal gentlemen who revised the sentence a court of appeal is.a misuse of terms. The question of innocent or guilty was never before them — nor, I believe, within their competence. Their choice lay between two forms of punishment, the graver and the more merciful. That they chose wisely is surely shown by the fact that this agitation still continues, and cannot fail to continue until the reasonable doubts in men's minds are set at rest.

Since there were 20,000 signatures to the appeal for a reprieve, and since this appeal was based upon the unsatis- factory nature of the conviction, I cannot believe that the citizens of Glasgow are so unanimous upon the subject as Mr. Risk would have us believe. — I am, Sir, &c.,

Arthur Conan Doyle.
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.

See also