John Dickman

John Dickman

John Dickman was born in Newcastle on 17th May 1864. His mother, Zelina Royer Dickman, died while giving birth to a fourth child. Soon afterwards, the three surviving children were sent to live with relatives.

After leaving school Dickman went to work for his father, who ran a successful farming and butchery business in Great Lumley, County Durham. Dickman disliked this work and eventually found employment as a clerk with a company called Mason & Barry in Wallsend. Later he worked as a clerk with shipowners Dixon, Robson & Company.

In January, 1892, Dickman married a young schoolteacher called Annie Bainbridge. After several years of financial stability, Dickman lost his job in 1901 with Dixon's and he was out of work for several months before finding employment as secretary with a colliery in Morpeth.

In 1906 Dickman arranged for the Morpeth Colliery Company to be sold to Moore, Brown & Fletcher. Although the transaction put him out of a job, Dickman received a commission of over £500, which was equivalent of several years' wages. Soon afterwards, a distant relative left him £200 in her will.

Dickman decided to use this money to become a professional gambler. He claims this venture was a success but there is evidence that by 1909 he was experiencing money problems and owed several hundreds of pounds to moneylenders.

On 21st March, 1910, Dickman was arrested and questioned him about the murder of John Nisbet. He was searched and he was found to be carrying £17 9s 5d. The £370 stolen from Nisbet was never found. Nor did the police find the gun that killed Nisbet although they did find some evidence that he had purchased a revolver in October 1909.

At his trial Dickman claimed that although he knew John Nisbet he did not travel with him on 18th March, 1910. He admitted that he travelled on the same train as Nisbet but not the same carriage. Dickman pointed out he bought a ticket to Stannington Station as he intended to visit William Hogg at Dovecot Colliery. However, he missed his station and got out at Morpeth Station instead. The prosecution made the point that the bag that Nisbet had used to carry the £370 was found at the bottom of Isabella Pit, a disused mine shaft near Morpeth.

Charles Raven, a commercial traveller, claimed he knew both Dickman and Nisbet and saw them walking together on the way to Platform 5 of Newcastle Station. In court Dickman claimed he did not know Raven.

Another witness, Wilson Hepple, had known Dickman for over twenty years. He claimed he saw Dickman get on the train with Nisbet. Hepple also confirmed that when the police reconstructed the crime, he correctly identified the carriage where Nisbet's body was found.

Percival Hall, also a colliery cashier, took the same journey as Nisbet every Friday. He saw Nisbet at Newcastle Station with a man he later identified as Dickman. When he got out at Stannington Station he acknowledged Nisbet who was still on the train.

Cicely Nisbet also identified Dickman as the man sitting in the same carriage as her husband at Heaton Station. John Athey, the ticket collector who had been on duty at Morpeth confirmed that Dickman had got off the 10.27 train at his station. His ticket was for Stannington and so paid Athey the excess fare.

Professor Robert Boland of Durham University gave evidence as a doctor of medicine. Boland had examined Dickman's clothing and argued that he had found blood on a glove and on a pair of trousers that he had worn on the day of the murder. Boland also pointed out in court that Dickman's Burberry overcoat shown signs of being rubbed vigorously with paraffin, a substance that was used at the time for removing blood stains.

John Badcock gave evidence on behalf of the National Provincial Bank. He stated that at the time of Nisbet's murder, Dickman was overdrawn at the bank. Robert Sedcole on behalf of Lloyds Bank told a similar story. James Paisley of the Co-operative Society claimed that in October 1907 Annie Dickman had £73 in her account. However, by March 1910, this had fallen to £4. It seems that the £700 John Dickman had in 1906 had all been spent. Superintendent John Weddell also stated in court that when Dickman was searched after the murder he had tickets that showed he had several items with local pawnbrokers.

Dickman was the only defence witness. He admitted travelling on the 10.27 train on Friday 18th March, 1910. However, he denied sitting in the same carriage as John Nisbet. Dickman said he was so busy reading his newspaper he could not recall who else was in his carriage. Although he knew Nisbet he argued he was unaware that he collected the wages for the colliery every Friday.

Dickman was found guilty of the murder of Nisbet on 6th July, 1910, and sentenced to death. Dickman responded to the verdict with the claim: "I can only repeat that I am entirely innocent of this cruel deed. I have no complicity in this crime, and I have spoken the truth in my evidence, and in everything I have said."

A campaign was immediately started to get the verdict overturned. An advertisement appeared in national newspapers. "Execution of Dickman on purely circumstantial evidence. Protest by postcard to the Home Secretary, London. Sympathisers please repeat in local papers."

On 27th July, 1910, the governor of Newcastle Prison received a letter signed by C.A. Mildoning, claiming that he had travelled with John Nisbet in the train from Newcastle, "shot him, then jumped out of the moving train in advance of Morpeth Station". It ended that "one murder is quite enough for me to do without being the cause of an innocent man being hung."

On 6th August, 1910, C. H. Norman published an article in the Daily News entitled Ought Dickman be Hanged. Norman was a member of the Society for Abolition of Capital Punishment and the Penal Reform League and led the campaign to get Dickman a retrial. However, his brother, William Dickman, wrote to the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and asked if anybody could possibly believe his brother was innocent unless they "looked at the evidence through smoked glasses." He added: "his own punishment will soon be over, but he has put a blot on the name of his family and all relatives will have to bear the disgrace, not for years, but for generations".

The Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, took a keen interest in the case. He expressed doubts about the blood evidence and asked his civil servants to seek the opinion of another expert. Churchill also instructed Chief Constable Fullarton James to initiate further enquiries about who else got off the 10.27 train at Morpeth Station on the day of the murder.

Churchill also examined the identification evidence. He wrote on the file: "I think Mrs Nisbet's evidence should be disregarded. The strong evidence is that of Raven, Hepple, Hall." Churchill eventually decided that Dickman should be executed. When he heard the news, Dickman told his wife that his conviction was "the greatest outrage ever perpetrated".

C. H. Norman wrote to Winston Churchill arguing that: "Should Dickman be innocent... it would not disturb the digestion or appetite of the gentlemen responsible... to execute a man on suspicion... is a principle so immoral and horrible that it could only emanate from the minds of the Home Office staff".

John Dickman and was hanged in Newcastle Prison on 10th August, 1910. The Newcastle Evening Chronicle reported that Dickman "marched to his execution as erect as a soldier, never flinching, even when the rope came into view."

On 14th August 1910 The People newspaper published an article entitled Was Dickman a Double Murderer?. According to this article, the police had found evidence that connected Dickman to Herman Cohen, a Sunderland moneylender who had been murdered on 8th March, 1909.

In 1925 a person called "Condor" confessed to killing John Nisbet. The document of 40,000 words spread over 205 pages was sent to Truth Magazine. The document was sent to the Home Office but they refused to order the police to discover who had written the confession. It was claimed by Diane Janes (Edwardian Murder) that the confession had been written by C. H. Norman.

In 1949 Clement Atlee set up a Royal Commission to examine the issue of capital punishment. C. H. Norman sent the commission a memorandum concerning the case of John Dickman. He claimed that he had been in communication with Sir Sidney Orme Rowan-Hamilton, who had written a book about the case, The Trial of John Alexander Dickman (1914). According to Norman, Rowan-Hamilton claimed that Dickman not only killed John Nisbet but had been responsible for the death of Caroline Luard as well. In his memorandum Norman argued that Winston Churchill was a good friend of Charles Luard and took part in framing Dickman in order to punish him for killing Luard.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) William Owen Gay, The Murder of John Nisbet (1998)

Officers who attend Court regularly are well acquainted with the procedure which entitles the prisoner either to make a statement from the dock or to give evidence on oath in the witness box. Some, no doubt, have experienced a sense of frustration when the prisoner decided to remain where he was and so deprived the prosecution of the right to cross-examine, but others will remember the convictions that have been secured because an over-confident criminal went into the box and completely ruined any chance he may have had of acquittal. The Criminal Evidence Act, 1898, first enabled an accused person to give evidence on oath and opponents of the measure, and there were many, said that the prisoner would have the responsibility of proving his innocence. The appearance and demeanour of a man can tell heavily against him, and he may be slow to comprehend the purpose of questions put to him. On the other hand, a quick-witted liar may succeed in creating a favourable impression. In 1910, when John Alexander Dickman was tried for murder at Northumberland Assizes, many experienced people said that there would have been an acquittal if it had been possible to keep Dickman out of the witness box...

The case against Dickman depended largely on the question of identification. As has been said, Charles Raven knew Dickman by sight but not by name. He knew Nisbet quite well and he saw both men walk towards the platform at Newcastle. But he did not see them enter the compartment together. Hepple, the artist, knew Dickman but did not know Nisbet. He was able to say he saw Dickman on the platform but that was all. Hall, one of the cashiers, knew Nisbet but not the prisoner. In evidence later he said that on 21st March he was taken to the Police Station and asked to pick out the prisoner from nine other men. He said that he picked out Dickman, saying as he did so, "If I was assured that the murderer was in amongst the nine men I would have no hesitation in picking the prisoner out." Counsel for the defence smelt a rat when this came out but nothing could be done at the time. After the trial enquiries were made on Home Office instructions and it appears that while Dickman was being questioned at the Police Station there were a number of policemen including two North Eastern Railway officers, in a corridor where Hall and Spink were waiting. An officer (never identified) suggested that Hall and Spink should go and have a look through the window of the room where Dickman was, and they did so. The door was also opened slightly for them to get a better view. In a report to the Home Office the Chief Constable of Northumberland said that Hall and Spink, when interviewed on the matter, denied that they had ever seen more than the back of the prisoner or that their identification had been influenced. There is not much doubt, however, that the evidence would not have been accepted at the trial if the circumstances had been known.

Mrs. Nisbet was also involved in a curious incident. When giving evidence before the Magistrates at the preliminary hearing she fainted twice. Eight days afterwards she explained that on looking at the prisoner in the dock she saw his face from the same angle as she had seen it in the train and the shock of recognition caused her collapse. After the trial it was learned that Mrs. Nisbet had known Dickman by sight for years and had seen him not long before the murder. If this had been known the defence would probably have been able to knock the bottom out of her evidence.

(2) Beatrice Hastings, New Age Magazine (11th August, 1910)

The question of Dickman’s guilt or innocence would no doubt be settled satisfactorily for a certain type of mind by the news of his execution.. As one Newcastle paper obsequiously observed after the failure of appeal: “The last doubter should now be satisfied that the verdict given at the Assizes was the right one.“ The forty thousand "last doubters,” including three of the jurymen, are still, at this moment, protesting that the verdict was a wrong one, and that the Appeal Court decision was a grim farce. We, noted at that court how the Lord Chief Justice had come to praise his learned colleague. Lord Coleridge staked more than his own reputation in revealing that trade stock of legal platitudes and clichés and of tricks of suggestion and suppression - so old that some of them have Sanskrit names. The pride and honour of the Bar are none too secure in these scientific days. Lord Alverstone may go blue in the face protesting that he doesn’t care tuppence for public opinion. Justice PhiIlimore may burst himself in the Appeal Court laughing at John William Smith’s seven epileptic relatives, and justice Darling may denounce "these theories of atavism and irresponsibility of which the air is full ” (though goodness only knows how the learned judge heard the news). The fact is that many a young student is better equipped to decide a murder charge than these elderly experts in the letter of the law.

Judges have never been popular; but, in these days their unpopularity seems clearer because humane persons speak more decidedly, knowing that science is behind them. It is significant that judges should give each other loud cheers over post-prandial boasts of their indifference to public opinion. Some noise is needed to drown the growing clamour of public opinion against the crime of judicial murder; murder of epileptics, murder of men condemned on circumstantial evidence, murder of boys under age, and of imbeciles. I have cases of all four on my records. No amount of judicial boasting, however, will impress persons who realise how sadly the times have changed for judges since 1833, when Mr. Justice Bosanquet luxuriously sentenced to death a housebreaker of nine years of age; since 183 I, when a lad of fourteen was hanged at Maidstone; nay, since 1907, when Thomas Parrett, an imbecile, aged sixteen, was sentenced to death at Crewe by the Lord Chief Justice - this very Lord Chief Justice who found Judge Coleridge’s attack on Dickman so “fair and able ” as seldom he had ever read!

Let us take a sample of this fair and able summary. About the stain on Dickman’s gloves, a stain which might have been fish blood. Lord Coleridge said : “The suggestion of the prisoner in respect of this was that his nose bled, but this might not appear to them a satisfactory explanation.

The prisoner did not say that on that day his nose bled.Very good reason why: his nose did not bleed on

that day, and - a small matter this, of course - his evidence on oath was that he was not wearing those gloves on “ that” day.

How differently evidence against this prisoner influenced Lord Coleridge! Hall, who omitted to tell the jurymen of his little peep at Dickman through the window. Hall is positively apotheosised. In commenting upon this witness’s evidence the judge became rhetorical. “There are some persons so proud of their accuracy that in that very pride one may discover grounds for doubt. There are other persons scrupulous, careful, conscientious, etc.”

Hall’s evidence needs a few adjectives to draw a curtain over that window episode. Mrs. Nisbet, too, who omitted to tell the jury that she had known Dickman for years - but probably no one but a judge would judge this afflicted woman one way or another; merely putting aside her evidence. I say here, however, that it is a pity for the sake of justice that women are not on the jury. In the middle of his summary Judge Coleridge made a table of the net result of the evidence “so far.”

1. The deceased was in the third compartment of the third coach.

2. He was murdered between Stannington and Morpeth.

3. There was one man and one man alone in the carriage with him - certainly between Heaton and Morpeth.

4. The prisoner was seen with the deceased at the station in Newcastle apparently in companionship with him.

5. The prisoner was seen with a companion getting into a compartment that was approximate at any rate to the one in which deceased was travelling.

That’s the “net result.” Not a word of the defence, although the defence. Of this numbered evidence, No. 2 is a lie. It has never been proved to this moment where Nisbet was murdered. No. 3 depends on Mrs. Nisbet’s Identification. No. 4 depends on Hall’s identification. No. 5 depends upon Hepple’s identification. Except for Hepple, Dickman would probably never have been charged. Hepple passed this man he had known for twenty years at a distance of eighteen feet, yet he never bade him good morning, nor did the twenty years’ friend give any greeting.

Distinctly fishy! Dickman’s evidence was that he was already seated in another part of the train, and never saw Hepple at all.

Clearly, from the moment Hepple swore to Dickman and the police discovered, from Dickman himself, that he had no alibi, the man, if innocent, was in a horrible trap.

Lord Coleridge, for the sake of argument, at one period chose to imagine Dickman as guilty, and he examined on that hypothesis the prisoner’s story of his movements. "If you believe it,” he commented, after this able but unfair hit at the prisoner "if you believe it, you must seek elsewhere for the murderer... There is no corroborative evidence that the prisoner had been on this road at all. Naturally, of course, a guilty man would seek in any may he could lay his hands on (sic) to account, otherwise than how it was spent, for the spending of that crucial interval.”

Lord Coleridge fought Dickman - who had had no breakfast each day but at 7.15 - as if this man were the grince of criminal intellects. What an ass he would have been however, on the judge’s eternal supposition that he had planned the murder with marvellous foresight, to have provided no better story but that he went for a walk and was taken ill. That explanation seems too simple to be untrue. Counsel for the defence was ably undermined once or twice. “Dickman has been treated for this sickness in prison,” counsel interrupted. His lordship observed that he had suffered from a malady no doubt.“ Does it not commend itself to your good sense,” the judge addressed the jury a few minutes later, “your good sense (a very able touch, this piffling moral bribery) that a clever guilty man would have said as much truth as possible without implicating himself?”

If to drum in the minds of the jury a disbelief of every word uttered by the accused, if that is ability, then no

doubt Lord Coleridge was temporarily very able, even though three of his moral victims soon turned upon him and upon themselves and remorsefully signed for Dickman’s reprieve.

I have previously referred to Lord Coleridge’s rule in summing-up this case, so that every hint, every suspicion, every bit of evidence against the accused was arranged to strike last upon the minds of the jury. This method, successful as it was in oratory, thumps monotonously through pages of writing.

Turning from this tedious, inhuman though expert hammering upon a man in a trap, it is interesting to note that extraordinary charges have been brought against Dickman, no, no, never brought, only hinted and spread far and wide!

It has been told me on “high authority” that the Home Office knows - only it cannot prove - that Dickman did “at least” two other murders and many forgeries, ever so many forgeries. The Luard murder was hinted at! Also the prosecution knew quite well, only it could not prove, that Dlckman actually had pistols. An old man was shot in Sunderland some time ago. Dickman... but Heaven defend us all if the authorities are going to judge us on secret information - too secret, too damned secret, to be made public. It is obvious that on the public evidence a reprieve was imperative. The Home Office must therefore have taken into account information not available for the public; that is, evidence, of so unsupported a character that it would not bear public investigation. I have personally received letters of unexampled spitefulness, testifying to the local prejudice and the determination to have some man or other bloodily executed for this crime. The authorities, for their part, are notoriously exasperated to have the Gorse Hall, the Luard and the Sunderland murders still unexplained.

The rumours that another warrant was out for Dickman proceeded from the police and no one else! Whether Dickman was guilty or innocent may never be known, but what is certain to grow in the public mind is the suspicion that his death was determined upon to satisfy the police and to save Lord Coleridge’s reputation. When an innocent man is convicted, the judge is condemned. Dickman on the evidence was doubtfully guilty. Lord Coleridge is more than doubtfully innocent.

(3) Diane Janes, Edwardian Murder (2007)

After getting his ticket Dickman bought a newspaper, which he took to read in the third-class refreshment room over a pie and a glass of beer. The newspaper in question was the Manchester Sporting Chronicle, the contents of which were particularly interesting to John Dickman that day as it happened to be the morning of the Grand National. After finishing his pie and beer, he made his way to catch the train from Platform 5, making a slight detour en route to pay a call at the urinal on Platform 8. He got into a compartment towards the rear of the Alnmouth train just before it departed, then immersed himself in his newspaper for the entire journey, with the result that although he was not alone, he could subsequently recall nothing about his travelling companions.

As a consequence of this preoccupation, Dickman failed to notice the train stopping at his intended station, Stannington, only realising his mistake when he felt the train negotiating the distinctive curve in the line immediately before Morpeth, which was the next station north. He got out of the train at Morpeth, tendering the excess fare of 2d as he left the platform. There was another train due to return in the opposite direction almost straight away, but Dickman decided to walk back, reasoning that if he visited the Lansdale Drift before rather than after his visit to the Dovecot Colliery, it would not take him out of his way.

He left Morpeth by the main Newcastle road and had been walking south for about half an hour when he was taken ill. He was later unable to describe precisely where this occurred, but estimated it to be somewhere between the groups of houses at Catchburn and Clifton. As the illness manifested itself in an urgent desire to open his bowels, Dickman climbed over or through a hedge, and attempted to relieve himself in a field. He had the misfortune to suffer from piles and they now occasioned him considerable pain. Eventually he felt so ill that he spread his overcoat on the ground and lay down, getting up every so often to see if he could alleviate the pain. Eventually after some considerable time had passed, he felt able to attempt the walk back to Morpeth, having decided to abort his plans and return home.

He could only manage a slow walk and by the time he got to Morpeth station, the 1.10 Newcastle Express had just left. With half an hour to kill before the next train south, he decided to visit the coal depot to see how business was there, but saw no one he knew. It then occurred to him to walk into town on the off-chance that Mr Hogg had called in at the Newcastle Arms, but before he got very far from the station he happened to meet an acquaintance called Edwin Elliott. Elliott was accompanied by a man called William Sanderson, who was a stranger to Dickman, and the three of them fell to speculating about the outcome of the Grand National. After this delay Dickman decided he ought to return to the station, which he did, catching the 1.40 train back to Newcastle.

Once back in Newcastle he returned home to Lily Avenue. By the time he got there he was feeling much better; so much so that he was able to go out with his wife and daughter that evening.

Three days later on Monday 21 March at around 5.00 in the afternoon, Dickman answered a knock at his front door and was surprised to find Detective Andrew Tait on his doorstep. Once Tait had identified himself and confirmed that the man before him was John Dickman, one time book-keeper with a city firm of ship brokers, the detective advised Dickman that the police had received information suggesting he had been seen in the company of the murdered man, John Nisbet, on the previous Friday morning. Could Dickman, Tait asked, throw any light on the matter?

Dickman replied that he had known Nisbet for many years, and had seen him in the booking hall the previous Friday morning. Naturally he had read about the murder and realised that he and Nisbet must have travelled by the same train. "I would have told the police, if I had thought it would do any good', Dickman said."

Tait then asked Dickman if he would mind accompanying him to the police station to make a statement, a suggestion which Dickman apparently fell in with willingly enough, exchanging his carpet slippers for his outdoor boots while Tait looked on. Annie Dickman arrived home at this point, just in time to see her husband donning his outdoor clothes. She had been out shopping and visiting a dressmaker that afternoon and her first intimation of something untoward was the unusual circumstance of arriving home to find her front door standing open, and a smell of cigar smoke in her hall.

(4) C. H. Norman, memorandum sent to the Royal Commission on Captal Punishment (27th November 1950)

This subject has interested me for many years, particularly since the trial of Rex v. Dickman at the Newcastle Summer Assizes in July 1910, who was tried for the murder of a man named Nesbit [sic] in a train. Dickman was executed for what was an atrocious crime on 10 August 1910, his appeal at the Court of Criminal Appeal being dismissed on 22 July 1910. The case has always troubled me and converted me into an opponent of capital punishment. I attended the trial as the acting official shorthandwriter under the Criminal Appeal Act. I took a different view to the jury; I thought the case was not conclusively made out against the accused. Singularly enough, in view of the nature of the crime, five of the jurymen signed the petition for reprieve, which could only be based upon the notion that the evidence was not sufficient against the accused.

It may be asked, why raise the question now? I am doing so partly because of Viscount Templewood's evidence, when he was reported as saying there was a possibility of innocent men being executed: partly because of the evidence of Viscount Buckmaster before the Barr Committee on Capital Punishment; but mainly because of the remarkable and disturbing matters concerning the Dickman case which have come to my knowledge over the intervening years, which I will now relate.

The Dickman case is the subject of a book by Sir S. RowanHamilton, which was published in 1914, based on the transcripts of the shorthand notes of the trial and certain other material. I did not read this book till August 1939, when owing to certain passages in the book, I wrote a letter to Sir S. Rowan-Hamilton, who had been Chief Justice of Bermuda, who replied as follows in a letter dated 26 October 1939:

The Cottage

Craijavak

Co. Down

Sir,

Your interesting letter of 24 August only reached me to-day. Of course, I was not present at the incident you referred to in the Judge's Chambers, but (Charles) Lowenthal (junior Crown counsel at Dickman's trial) was a fierce prosecutor. All the same Dickman was justly [convicted?], and it may interest you to know that he was with little doubt the murderer of Mrs Luard [who was shot dead at Ightham, near Sevenoaks, Kent, on 24 August 1908], for he had forged a cheque she had sent him in response to an advertisement in The Times (I believe) asking for help; she discovered it and wrote to him and met him outside the General's and her house and her body was found there. He was absent from Newcastle those exact days. Tindal Atkinson knew of this, but not being absolutely certain, refused to cross-examine Dickman on it. I have seen replicas of cheques. They were shown me by the Public Prosecutor. He was, I believe, mixed up in that case, but I have forgotten the details.

Yours truly

S. Rowan-Hamilton, Kt.

In 1938 there was published a book entitled Great Unsolved Crimes, by various authors. In that book there is an article by exSuperintendent Percy Savage (who was in charge of the investigations), entitled 'The Fish Ponds Wood Mystery', which deals with the murder of Mrs Luard, wife of Major-General Luard, who committed suicide shortly afterwards by putting himself on the railway line. In that article, the following passage appears: "It remains an unsolved mystery. All our work was in vain. The murderer was never caught, as not a scrap of evidence was forthcoming on which we could justify an arrest, and, to this day, I frankly admit I have no idea who the criminal was.' This book first came to my notice in February 1949, whereupon I wrote to Sir Rowan-Hamilton, reminding him of the previous letters, and asking for his observations on this statement of the officer who had conducted the inquiries into the Luard case. On 22 February 1949, I received the following reply from Sir S. Rowan-Hamilton:

Lisieux

Sandycove Road

Dunloaghaire

Co. Dublin

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your letter. Superintendent Savage was certainly not at Counsel's conference and so doubtless knew nothing of what passed between them. I am keeping your note as you are interested in the case and will send you later a note on the Luard case.

Yours truly

S. Rowan-Hamilton, Kt.

I replied, pointing out what a disturbing case of facts was revealed, as it was within my knowledge that Lord Coleridge, who tried Dickman, Lord Alverstone, Mr Justice A.T. Lawrence and Mr Justice Phillimore, who constituted the Court of Criminal Appeal, were friends of Major-General and Mrs Luard. (Lord Alverstone made a public statement denouncing in strong language the conduct of certain people who had written anonymous letters to Major-General Luard hinting that he had murdered his wife.) I did not receive any reply to this letter, nor the promised note on the Luard case.

Mr Winston Churchill, who was the Home Secretary who rejected all representations on behalf of Dickman, was also a friend of Major-General Luard.

So one has the astonishing state of things disclosed that Dickman was tried for the murder of Nesbit [sic] by judges who already had formed the view that he was guilty of the murder of the wife of a friend of theirs. If Superintendent Savage is to be believed, this was an entirely mistaken view.

I was surprised at the time of the trial at the venom which was displayed towards the prisoner by those in charge of the case. When I was called into Lord Coleridge's room to read my note before the verdict was given, on the point of the non-calling of Mrs Dickman as a witness, I was amazed to find in the judge's room Mr Lowenthal, Junior Counsel for the Crown, the police officers in charge of the case, and the solicitor for the prosecution. When I mentioned this in a subsequent interview with Lord Alverstone, he said I must not refer to the matter in view of my official position.

I did my best at the time within the limits possible. I went to Mr Burns, the only Cabinet Minister I knew well, and told him my views on the case and the incident in the judge's room; which I also told Mr Gardiner, the editor of The Daily News, who said he could not refer to that, though he permitted me to write in his room a last-day appeal for a reprieve, which appeared in The Daily News. Mr John Burns told me afterwards that he had conveyed my representations to Mr Churchill, but without avail.