10 JANUARY 1964, Page 18


SIR,—Sir William James draws attention to the possibilities of a miscarriage of justice by court martial.

He is right to do so, for in an imperfect world no tribunal has yet been devised that is infallible. The only known safeguard is review by a superior tribunal, in this case the Courts Martial Appeal Court.

Properly conducted courts martial, however, are held in all parts of the world wherever British troops are serving and they have the reputation in the services of being extremely fair. Any trial of any importance has the assistance of a legally trained judge advocate to advise the court on matters of law and to deliver a summing-up.

One improvement is desirable. It is that there should be a verbatim record of all trials where there is a judge advocate, in order that afterwards justice shall be seen to have been done. This is apparently the case in the Royal Air Force, but not in the Army, on the grounds, it is always said, of lack of funds.

This is a curious anomaly which deserves the attention of Parliament when the Army Estimates come up for review.