Casement and Joyce

Publication Date01 November 1978
Date01 November 1978
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1978.tb01495.x
AuthorAlan Wharam
CASEMENT
AND
JOYCE
SIR
ROGER
CASEMENT was tried and convicted
in
1916,
William
Joyce
in
1945.
These
two celebrated
cases
have passed into history, but
they have always been a
cause
for concern. and it
is
felt that they
merit re-examination, especially
as
the present writer, who has had
occasion to make extensive research into the law
of
treason,‘
considers that even now certain features have never been
fully
investigated.
SIR
ROGER
CASEMENT
The trial of Casement took place during the last week
of
June
1916;
his appeal
was
heard and dismissed three weeks later, and he
was
executed on August
3.a
Casement had been born in Ireland
in
1864,
and he spent many years in government service, for which
he
was
knighted in
1911;
he retired from the
service
in
1913.
In the
autumn of
1914
he was
in
Germany, where
he
was evidently allowed
complete freedom of movement, and during the winter he was making
speeches to Irish prisoners
of
war, urging them to join the Irish
Brigade.
Early
in
1916,
the Germans were planning
to
send
a
rhip-
meat of arms to assist the Irish
in
an
uprising,
timed
to
start
on
April
24;
on April
21,
Casement and
a
few
other men, with a small
quantity of
ms
and ammunition, landed from
a
U-boat
on
the
Irish coast; he
was
arrested within a matter of hours.
The
Law
Officers
of the Crown had to decide whether to prosecute
Casement for treason or for some lesser
offence
under civilian law, or
whether to have
him
tried
by
court-martial: it
was
decided to
m-
cute for treason,
and
following the committal proceedings
in
the
middle of May before the Bow
Street
magistrate, Casement
was
tried
at
bars
on
June
26.
The indictment* contained one count
only,
namely of adhering
to
the enemy contrary
to
the Treason
Act
1351,
by aiding and assisting them
in
Germany
between
Decembef
1,
1914,
and
April
21,
1916.
Six
overt
acts
were alleged,
i.e.
(i)
On
December
31, 1914,
inciting prisoners at Limburg
Lahn
Camp to forsake their allegiance to the
Crown,
to
join
the
armed forces of the enemy, and to fight against the
Crown;
(ii)
and
(ii)
Similar
overt acts
021
January
6
and
February
19,
1915;
(iv) In January and February
1915,
at Limburg Lahn Camp, circu-
lating
a
leaflet among prisoners to the same effect;
1
See,
‘‘
Treason
in
Rhodesia,” [1%71
C.L.J.
189.
2
[
19171
1
K.B.
91.
Notable British Triuls
(2nd ed., 19601, edited
by
H.
Montgomery
Hyde; this
work
contains a lengthy introduction and a verbatim account
of
all the
proceedings, and
is
referred
to
hereafter as
NBT.
8
Lord Reading C.J.,
Avow
and Horridge JJ., sitting at the Royal
Courts
of
Justice.
4
Printed
in full at NBT
pp.
2-4.
68
1
682
THE
MODERN
LAW
REVIEW
[Vol.
41
(v)
In
December
1914
and January and February
1915,
persuading
certain prisoners to the same effect;
(vi) On or about April
12,
1916,
setting out from Germany as
a
member of
a
warlike and hostile expedition undertaken and
equipped by the enemy with a view to landing
arms
and am-
munition on the coast
of
Ireland for use in the prosecUtion
of
the war by the enemy.
Casement’s conduct could hardly have been expected to evoke
sympathy in England. The
war
had been in progress for two years,
and
the Armed Forces had already suffered seriuus reverses and
grievous
losses.
No
one who chose to add to the nation’s difficulties,
however honourable
his
motives may have been, could avoid arousing
the hostility
of
his captors, although this does not excuse the atti-
tude adopted by some members of the English legal profession. An
Irish solicitor in practice in London, Mr. Gavan a family
friend of the Casements, undertook the defence; but
his
partners
insisted on dissolving the firm in consequence. In spite
of
the urgency
and importance
of
the matter, eight days elapsed before Mr. Duffy
was able to
see
his client, who was being held in the strictest custody
in the Tower; and in a great hurry he then briefed two Welshmen,
Mr. Artemus Jones and Professor J.
H.
Morgan, (the latter another
personal friend
of
Casement) to represent the defence at Bow Street.
It is said that
Sir
John Simon K.C. and Mr. Gordon Hewart K.C.
were both offered the defence brief for the trial and that both refused
it, whereupon Mr. Duffy approached his brother-in-law, Serjeant
Sullivan
K.C.
He also was reluctant to act, and in his
case
there
were certain technical difficulties. As a serjeant
of
the Irish Bar, he
could not accept briefs against the
Crown
in
Ireland; it was
un-
certain
if
this rule applied in England, but
if
it did it was waived. He
was
a
K.C.
in
Ireland, but
a
junior
member
of
the English
Bar,’
with
no practical experience in this country; and he had a busy practice
in
his home country which was at that time on the verge
of
insur-
rection. However, he did accept the brief about one month before the
trial was due to commence. Superimposed upon the professional
and political difficulties were thuse
of
a
personal nature. When the
two
men
met each dher
for
the first time in Brixton Prison (to
which Casement had now been transferred), they
seem
to have taken
a dislike to each other at first sight: Casement disagreed with his
counsel’s views
as
to the
mrrect
method of conducting the case,
whilst Serjeant Sullivan regarded his client as
a
megalomaniac, and
was particularly disturbed at his proposals to boast about his homo-
sexual practices
in
front of the jury. And the diaries were a constant
menace
in
the background
ot
the
case.
Casement was, however, fortunate in his friendship with Professor
5
He subsequently went to Ireland and became President
of
the High Court in
8
Well known as the plaintiff
in
Hulton
v.
Jones
[1910]
A.C.
20.
7
Smith Att.-Gen. suggested to Finlay L.C. that Sjt. Sullivan be appointed King’s
Dublin.
Counsel
in England to conduct the defence, but the proposal was rejected.

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