17 JANUARY 1964, Page 16

SIR,—I agree with your correspondent, Dennis Thompson, that for all

but a few cases a court of officers is an extremely fair tribunal. It is these few cases, such as the Cory and Swabey cases, compli- cated by conflicting evidence, which should be argued by learned counsel before an experienced judge.

As the Captain of a man of war can impose sentences up to ninety days' detention, only the most serious cases are tried by court martial, and as these are few and far between naval officers have very little experience of courts martial. The Deputy Judge Advocate at a naval court is not a trained barrister, nor do executive naval officers study law at any period of their career.

Lord Brentford, in a letter to the press, regrets that illness prevented him being present at the debate in the House of Lords on a motion to appoint an independent tribunal to inquire into the Swabey case. If he had been present the voting would have been equal for and against the motion. Surely, sir, justice to an officer should not depend on the vote of one peer?