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If you wish to read a transcript of the findings
The formal investigation was held at Central buildings,
on the 15th 16th, 17th and 18th June,at the Westminster Palace
Hotel on the 1st of July, and at the Caxton Hall,Westminster, on
the 17th of July,before the Right Honourable LORD MERSEY,
He was assisted by Admiral Sir F. S. Inglefield, K.C.B.; Lieutenant-
Commander Hearn RN; Captain D. Davies and Captain J.
spedding, (both from the Merchant Navy) who were acting as
assessors, into the circumstances attending the loss of the
steamship "Lusitania", and the loss of 1,198 lives at a spot ten to
fifteen miles south of the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, on the 7th
May 1915. (Please note that the official figure for lives lost does
not include the three Germans locked in the ship's cells).
The Board of Trade required that a formal investigation be held on
the above dates. Some were held in public others were in camera.
A total of thirty six witnesses were called and a number of
documents examined. Twenty one questions for the court were
formulated by the Admiralty for the Board of Trade which we will
detail, with the answers as given.
The full report is not available to the public, indeed the only
surviving copy to our knowledge is in Lord Mersey's private
papers. As two of the hearings took place behind closed doors, the
only transcript of those hearings s in Lord Mersey's private
papers. It was during these in camera hearings, that the Admiralty
tried to frame Captain Turner. They very nearly succeeded in this,
but at the last minute, their own staff work let them down.
The "prosecuting" barrister started reading from Admiralty memos
that had not been submitted to the court! Mersey stoppedb the
proceedings and summoned ALL the lawyers to the bench. He
icily demanded an immediate explanation of the memos from the
Crown Solicitor General, who was at a loss to explain.
Lord Mersey, and Sir F.E. Smith, (the prosecution barrister)
suddenly realised that the evidence had been falsified by the
Admiralty and they refused to proceed further.
The inquiry was adjourned and Lord Mersey asked all of the
assessors to give him their seperate opinions in sealed envelopes.
Only Admiral Sir Frederick Inglefield returned a guilty verdict
against Captain Turner. This was not surprising as Inglefield had
been pre-briefed by the Board of the Admiralty and instructed to
find Turner guilty of treasonable behaviour.
Our copy of the report came from the Cunard archives held at
Sydney Jones library, Liverpool University and obviously only
covers the PUBLIC hearings. We obtained the pages that related
only to Captain Turner's given evidence but the version of the
report which is held at the library, is available to the public.
The report as detailed shows the questions and answers and the
court's findings. We have added the answers that show an Annex
with our comments, which appear in red type. Ultimately of course,
the Mersey inquiry was simply a public whitewashing exercise.
Something had to be seen to be done, to quell public outrage. With
Lord Mersey clearing Cunard and Captain Turner of blame, the full
blame had therefore to be placed with the "beastly Hun".
So justice, at least to some, appeared to have been done. But it
was a fundamentally unsound justice, as Lord Mersey knew only
too well. Two days after he closed his inquiry, Lord Mersey waived
his fees for the case and formally resigned. His last words on the
"The Lusitania case was a damned, dirty business!" He did have
one consolation though. However hard they tried, then or later, the
Admiralty would NEVER be able to completely cover their tracks
as Lord Mersey, in his wisdom, had taken the liberty of
confiscating the entire contents of Admiral Inglefield's master
court file, and placing it with his own, secure, private papers.