British Military & Criminal History:
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The following account of John Amery's High Treason trail appear in "The Times" dated Thursday 29 November 1945.
"A SELF-CONFESSED TRAITOR"
John Amery, who pleaded "Guilty" at the Central criminal Court yesterday to indictments alleging high treason and treachery, was sentenced to death within eight minutes of entering the dock.
Amery, who is 33, was described as a politician. He took the sentence with complete composure. He bowed to Mr. Justice Humphreys when he was brought into Court, and also after sentence had been passed.
While the proceedings lasted he appeared most of the time to have half a smile on his face. After sentence had been passed he walked away with bowed head to the cells below the dock. The sudden end of the case was dramatic.
The hearing began nearly an hour late. At one minute to 11 oclock the counsel and solicitor for the defence, led by Mr. G. 0. Slade, KC., went down the clock steps in procession to confer with the accused. While they were out of Court Sir Hartley Shaweross, KC., the Attorney-General, who led for the prosecution, also went out. It was apparent to all present in the crowded Court that something unexpected was happening.
When defending counsel returned to Court shortly before 11.30, Mr. Slade first spoke to the Attorney-General and then to the Clerk of the Court, who immediately sent an usher to the Judge. Mr. Justice Humphreys took his seat, and Amery was brought in. His long black hair, curling up at the back, was carefully brushed. He wore a brown overcoat and a black and yellow scarf, which was knotted at his neck.
The clerk read the long indictment, which contained eight counts charging him with broadcasting, inducing British subjects in captivity (who were named) to light for Germany against Britain and Russia, and with making public speeches on behalf of the enemy in Antwerp, Lyons, and Paris while France and Belgium were under enemy occupation.
Amery stood in the front of the dock and leaned forward, listening intently. His brow puckered, the nervous smile left his face, and he stroked his chin with his forefinger.
He was asked to plead, and after a tense silence he said in a firm voice, which was audible in all parts of The Court, "I plead guilty to all counts.
The Judge said he never accepted a plea of "Guilty" on the capital charge without assuring himself that the accused person thoroughly understood what he was doing and what the immediate result must be, and that he was in accord with his legal advisers in the course he was taking.
In reply to the Judge, Mr. Slade said he had explained the position fully to his client and was satisfied that he understood.
The Judge ordered that the plea should he recorded.
The Clerk of the Court then told the prisoner that he stood convicted of high treason. Amery made no reply when he was asked if he had anything to say why judgment of death should not be passed upon him according to law.
The nervous smile returned to his face as the black cap was adjusted. When asked by the Judge if he had anything to say he replied, "No, Sir".
The Judge then said to him: "John Amery, I have read the depositions and the exhibits in this case, and I am satisfied that you knew what you did and that you did it intentionally and deliberately after you had received warning from more than one of your fellow countrymen that the course you were pursuing amounted to high treason. They called you a traitor and you heard them; but in spite of that you continued in that course. You now stand a self-confessed traitor to your King and country, and you have forfeited your right to live".
The Judge then passed the only sentence allowed; that of death by hanging.
Amery had kept his eyes on the Judge throughout his remarks and while he passed sentence. Showing no sign of emotion, he bowed with dignity to the Judge and turned to walk down the steps to the cells.
No jury was sworn and the Attorney-General did not speak throughout the brief hearing.