Letters to the Editor
Evans and Christie Peter Baker, St. John Ervine.
Miss F. Tennyson Jesse
Pitman's College M. V. Crehan The Kleins of D'Arblay Street Victor Musgrave The BBC's Russian Service A. Earley, D. E. Maurice,
Civil Liberties Elizabeth A. Allen The Liberal Party Peter Bessell, Gerald Kaufman Glyndebourne Bernard Levin The Attlee Legend Arthur H. Booth Hong Kong N. Travers, Prof. Lancelot Forster Gin and Tonic R. L. Scoones Sargent Charles Merrill Mount `Leftover Life to Kill' Isabel Quigly Ballet Michael Wood
EVANS AND CHRISTIE am the journalist who interviewed Father Joseph, the Roman Catholic chaplain at Pentonville when Timothy Evans was hanged. I will try to persuade Miss Tennyson Jesse that, by a series of questions frankly designed for the purpose, it is possible to learn something about a penitent's confession.
I saw Father Joseph by appointment, having phoned and told him who I was and what I wanted to talk about. The interview took place two or three days after Christie was arrested. This is relevant, for, at that time, he had made no statements about the Evans murders. Thus, for anybody unconnected with the case, almost the only reason to suppose that Evans might have been innocent was the fact that
several more bodies had been found at Rillington Place and that a man who had been living there at the same time as Evans and was the principal witness againSt him had now been charged with murder. I told Father Joseph that I had discovered a few facts which indicated that more than mere co- incidence could be considered; that I was beginning to believe that Evans might have been innocent; that '1640 try to prove this would obviously involve a great
deal of work and that I did not want to waste my time
My first question was: 'Do you think it is worth My while to go on with my inquiries?'
Without hesitation, Father Joseph said he did. 1 concluded that Father Joseph thought Evans was innocent. He confirmed this. He said he had always thought him completely innocent. Did Evans die a good Catholic? He did. And Father Joseph volunteered the in- formation that he was saying his rosary as he stood upon the scaffold. I was bound to conclude that he made his final confession.
Was I right in thinking that this had to be absolute and complete to be effective? I was.
And this would be urged upon a penitent? It would.
_ Then I would clearly be justified—in view of Father Joseph's belief in Evans's innocence—in
assuming he had not confessed to murder? Father Joseph said I would—and was immediately, though for the first time, troubled about the seal of the confessional. He wondered whether an admission
that Evans had not confessed to something violated this. I made a summary note (which I still have) of our conversation and left.
Later irr the day, Father Joseph phoned an execu- tive of my paper and said he had gone too far in his interview with me. He did not deny that he had been correctly reported and he made no complaint about the interview, but he said that he was greatly worried about it.
I saw him again shortly after the Scott Henderson report was issued, but he absolutely refused to discuss the matter further.—Yours faithfully, 310A, Kings Road, SW3