The Edalji Case. Sir A. Conan Doyle at the Home Office (George Edalji's letter)
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
The Edalji Case. Sir A. Conan Doyle at the Home Office is a collection of 15 letters published in The Daily Telegraph on 16 january 1907 including one written by George Edalji and one written by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Below is reproduced the George Edalji's letter only. The Conan Doyle's letter is here.
The Edalji Case. Sir A. Conan Doyle at the Home Office
Life in Prison
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was yesterday received at the Home Office by Mr. Gladstone, Sir Mackenzie Chalmers, and Mr. Blackwell. It was agreed that the proceedings should be considered private.
A conversation of an hour followed, during which all aspects of the Edalji case were discussed.
Sir A. Conan Doyle met with a courteous and sympathetic reception, and was well pleased by the general result of the meeting.
He is confident that the Home Office will do all they can to clear the matter up.
To the Editor of "The Daily Telegraph."
Sir — There are some points in Mr. Henderson-Livesey's letter in your issue of to-day which call for a prompt answer from me. In my letter which appears this morning I have shown that it was not due to any laxity on my part that no expert was called regarding my eyesight. I repeat that I was advised the evidence against me was no palpably ridiculous that it was needless for me to call even a single witness to refute it. Immediately after my conviction, both my friends and myself applied to the Home Office to make a scientific examination of my eyes, but it was not till after a year's delay that it was done. The Home Office persists in refusing to furnish me, or my advisers, with any information about the report sent in by the gentleman who made this examination. The inference is obvious. I now publicly challenge the Home Office to produce this report.
Next, as to the insinuation that prison life made my eyes worse. For the credit of our prison system let me remark that my three rare confinement in no way affected my sight, and, further, that I had not the slightest illness of any sort while in prison. The medical officers at Lewes and Portland, where I served practically the whole of my time, were well acquainted with the state of my eyesight. At Lewes I was only employed in part-making horses' nosebags, which merely consists in a kind of plaiting on a board ; and on account of my sight the words "Half task at cell labour" were written by the doctor on my door-card. At Portland there was no "task," but the doctor said that on account of my sight be could not — save at my own risk — put me on anything except pickling coir (on a board with a comb), and this was my only employment while there. On the day after my arrival at Portland I was informed that, on account of my astigmatism and myopia. I should not be allowed to go up and down stairs, and was accordingly specially "located on No. 1 Ward" by the doctor.
Your correspondent says: "Why should they (the police) not have taken the coat without comment, and put the hair on at the station?" My answer to this is that when they took the coat they did honestly think that two or three brownish threads which were on it were horse hairs, and it was these which they indicated to my friends. Surely, seeing that they mistook cocoa stains for blood, milk for saliva, a botany spud for a dagger, and a railway key for a pistol, and made a number of other equally absurd mistakes, there is nothing surprising in their also making one about the hair.
Lastly, it is surely unnecessary for me to point out that neither I nor my friends have ever ceased to petition the Home Office for a reconsideration of my case ; that during the time of my imprisonment the Hon. R. D. Yelverton and others have indefatigably worked on my behalf, and that the editor of "Truth," besides forwarding to the Home Office an exhaustive memorial — dealing with every paint on the case — also published is that journal a long series of admirably clear articles analysing the whole of the evidence.
Everything that could be done was done to bring the whole of the evidence before the public without a delay of three years, or even three weeks. — Yours truly,
G. E. T. EDALJI