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"They did nothing wrong" - family demands justice for hero policemen

Thursday 03 December 2020

"They did nothing wrong" - family demands justice for hero policemen


The convictions of several Guernsey policemen during the Occupation continue to be appealed more than seventy years later.

During the Occupation a number of policemen were arrested for stealing from nazi stores. Some of them were caught and tried in both a German military court and the Guernsey Royal Court and found guilty, with at least sixteen men sent to labour camps.

These convictions have been deemed a "taint upon the reputation of the system of justice in Guernsey". The men stole to feed starving people under nazi rule and did what they could to "frustrate the Germans".

Many Guernsey Policemen were asked to stay in the island and were forced to salute the German officers.

The Express has been given legal briefing notes by Barrister Patrick O’Connor QC, who took on the case for nine of the policemen pro bono. “The court is concerned with legal requirements: not ‘moral’ aspects of this history,” said the Barrister. 

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Pictured: Officer Kingston Bailey defended his actions in court.

The convictions in 1942 saw, "by some opaque executive measure", the men taken to labour camps in mainland Europe where one of them died. The only articles of evidence were confessions written for them in German, which are widely believed to have been accepted under duress.

“Had this been a normal and fair trial, properly conducted by the Bailiff, and the prosecution, the ‘voluntariness' of the guilty pleas would have been considered thoroughly at the outset of the trial.”

Inspector Lamy was one of the officers who was required to get a confession from the men at the time but has since written an account – Policing During the Occupation, 1940-1945 – where he says that "confessions would be extracted forcibly from suspects by the German field police."

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Pictured: Guernsey Policemen were made to enforce German rule - Officer Frank Tuck found himself convicted for stealing butter.

During the Occupation Guernsey’s Bailiff passed rulings on behalf of German laws and German rule. Bailiff Carey’s authority saw three Jewish women deported to Auschwitz five weeks prior to the policemen’s convictions.

“His extra-judicial role and that of the jurats,” said Barrister O’Connor, “in administering the hostile occupation of Guernsey, was incompatible with his sitting as an independent judge presiding over this criminal trial.”

The convictions were appealed in 1955 to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the UK but were dismissed with the confessions cited as being made ‘voluntarily’.

A legal team brought together by Barrister O’Connor filed to re-open the case in 2019, but this was refused earlier this year. Simply put, it has been deemed too complicated a process to start up again.

“There is enormous procedural difficulty over re-opening a case formally before the Court after so many decades”, said Barrister O’Connor.

“From the brief reason given, the Board was concerned about these procedural issues, rather than the accuracy of the substantive issues raised.”

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Pictured: Charles Friend is one of nine police officers being represented by Barrister O'Connor - he passed away in 1988.

Keith Friend's father found his treatment on return to Guernsey very difficult to stomach.

"He [Charles Friend] was bitter about what happened to him, aside from what he endured at the hands of the Germans where he was beaten and starved."

"When he got back he was told that everything would be put right - but no-one wanted to know, he lost his position in the police force and people turned their back on the problem."

Mr Friend hopes renewed interest in the historic case will help clear his father's name: "if the government is involved then it might carry a bit more weight."

When asked for comment, a States of Guernsey spokesperson said: "this matter has been raised with Policy and Resources in order to find out what can be done."

Pictured top: People in Guernsey had to queue for food stamps while German officers got first pick of supplies.

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