A padre in the Tower

17 May 2019

May 16th, 1919.

NO SENSIBLE man of the world would entirely acquit of indiscretion a padre who, after a lodge dinner, lingered about Piccadilly-circus, and replied somewhat insolently to an officer whom he discovered too late to be an A. P. M. But, if Mr Digby’s conduct was probably indiscreet, the subsequent action of the military authorities was certainly indefensible. Mr Digby’s close arrest in the Tower for a fortnight was followed by several weeks of open arrest. When at last a court-martial was held it appeared that the military authorities were not so sure of their case as to conduct it themselves, but had committed it to the Public Prosecutor, thereby entailing upon Mr Digby the very heavy expense of briefing eminent counsel for his defence. The evidence for the prosecution was of the flimsiest character, that for the defence weighty and complete, both in regard to the events of the evening and to Mr Digby’s character and good service, and the Court had no hesitation in finding Mr Digby innocent of the charges brought against him. It is unjust that Mr Digby should have been put to grave expense— amounting, as we understand, to about £1,000 — in order to clear himself of charges which would never have been brought if the case had been dealt with in its earlier stages by any person of ordinary intelligence. The affair is the more to be regretted since it tends to discredit the whole system of the military police.

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