A lawyer by occupation,  I have spent 28 years in the Australian Navy specialising in criminal law with extensive experience as an advocate before Military courts martial and in civil courts as a Police and Crown prosecutor.  I have a reputation for addressing injustices.

I became involved in this case 12 months ago after watching the ‘Breaker’ Morant movie (not for the first time!!).  I became concerned by the disregard for the rights of the accused to a fair trial, in particular a reasonable opportunity for their Australian defending officer, Major James Thomas, to prepare a defence case for Lieutenants Morant, Handcock and Witton who had been charged with killing Boer prisoners during the Boer War.

I have studied the research of professional historians and frankly I am concerned that they have not studied the evidence and the law of 1902. Instead, they have made assumptions and self serving statements to suppport their own bias against Morant. Their declarations, including that Morant murderd large numbers of Boer civilians is simply not supported by any evidence.  Historians have also failed to study the evidence from a legal perspective.  The time has arrived for an inquiry into the legal process, the arrest, trial and sentencing of Morant, Handcock and Witton.

I believe that Morant, Handcock and Witton were not tried in accordance with the law of 1902 and had suffered injustice as a result. In short, the convictions for murder were unsafe and a review process has to be done.  Despite extensive literature on the Boer war and the life of Morant, no one had ever examined the details of the trials, questioned neither the legitimacy of the evidence nor the conduct of the trials. As a senior lawyer, I have used my extensive legal and military experience to study the case and have produced significant evidence that asserts Morant, Handcock and  Witton did not receive fair trials.

In October 2009, I forwarded two petitions for pardons for these men, one to the Australian House of Representatives Petitions Committee and the other to Her Majesty, the Queen.  In May 2010, I also sent a petition to the Senate. I lobbied Australian politicians and written letters to the British government.  I succeeded in having the matter heard before the House of Representatives Petitions Committee on the 15th of March 2010.  A member of the Committee described the grounds of appeal as strong and compelling.

I believe unsafe convictions were the result of  flaws in the arrest, investigation, trial and sentencing of the accused.  The historic process of petitioning the Crown for the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy has been used to argue for an inquiry into the execution of Morant and Handcock and the imprisonment of Witton.

I am committed to having this matter examined and justice delivered posthumously so that Major Thomas’ work can be completed, and the descendants of these men can rest knowing that Morant, Handcock and Witton served the Crown in a manner that deserves honourable recognition. Ultimately, I want justice on behalf of these men and their descendants.

5 Responses to About

  1. Jim McJannett says:

    Kindly remove my email address.

  2. jamesunkles says:

    Ian, an independent inquiry, properly conducted will allow both sides, (for and against) to examine the evidence and issues concerning the case for pardons.

    Let’s see what happens. I remain confident about the sense of fair play and the British respect for rule of law.


    Jim Unkles

  3. clem the gem says:

    I cannot believe, until I have seen clear evidence, that these three men are innocent, but I can believe that the trial was conducted with undue haste, and was not in accordance with military law, as laid down in 1902 KRs.
    I am worried that although a re-trial/investigation would be in order, there is a distinct possibility of guilty men being exonerated.
    Please bear in mind that murders were committed, by men in uniform.
    If further evidence was even now to come to light proving Breaker Morants guilt, would he still be seen as a scapegoat? He was, after all, part of an Imperial force subjugating a hitherto free people in a dirty colonial war.

  4. jamesunkles says:

    Thanks Phillip for your response, and I agree with your assessment, please keep in touch and sperad the word.



  5. Phillip Hopson says:

    Having read several books about the Breaker including Witton’s Scapegoats of the Empire I have always believed that this incident has been a great travesty of justice. I watched with interest the Sixty Minutes segment last night and strongly believe they do in fact deserve honourable recognition and hope that this does happen.

    Regards Phillip

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *