Saturday, 27 October 2012

27th October 1812: The Home Office Under Secretary, John Beckett, seeks assurances that Walker & Sowden's evidence was given voluntarily

Whitehall 27th Octr 1812—


I am directed by Lord Sidmouth to acknowledge the Receipt of your Letter of the 24th Instant with its several Inclosures.

There seems to be a fair prospect from what is stated in the Examinations transmitted by you of obtaining a Conviction against some of the persons who murdered Mr. Horsfall. It would be desireable however that Lord Sidmouth should have before him in considering the Case against these parties all the Documents connected with it and I have therefore to request that you would send up a Copy of Walker’s Confession which you state to have been taken at a time when you had no Evidence against him and you will be so good as to inform me whether his Confession when taken was purely voluntary or made under any Inducement held out by yourself or any other person on your behalf. This Information is necessary in order to decide whether Walker must of necessity be admitted as Evidence for the Crown. For the present you will be so good as represent Mr. Radcliffe the expediency of Walker being kept in safe Custody and apart from persons who are likely to tamper with him.

I have a letter from Mr. Lloyd by the same Post which conveyed yours stating that a Man whose name Mr. L. does not mention has been privately examined before Mr. Radcliffe and that his Testimony goes to confirm the Statements contained in the Depositions you have sent up throughout. A copy of this Examination Lord Sidmouth is also desirous of receiving and it should also be known how far the same was voluntary if it is in the nature of a Confession tending to implicate the Party making it in the murder.

You will see the propriety of forbearing to hold out to Walker any expectations of money if the same has not been done already till the whole of the Case against the persons committed has undergone a full Consideration.

I am &c
(signed) J. Beckett

[To] Allison Esqr

This letter can be found at HO 42/129.

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