WWI plot to murder Prime Minister: Andrew Smith QC and Ben Williams involved pro bono with application to CCRC

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Andrew Smith QC, and Ben Williams have been working and advising for a number of years on an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, regarding the 1917 prosecution of Derby resident Alice Wheeldon and her family. The application has now been lodged.

Alice, her daughters Hettie Wheeldon and Winnie Mason, and her son-in-law Alf Mason, were accused of conspiracy to murder Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Arthur Henderson, a Labour member of the War Cabinet. The trial was prosecuted at the Old Bailey by the Attorney General, F. E. Smith KC MP (later Lord Birkenhead), leading Mr Hugo Young KC, Sir Archibald Bodkin and Mr Maddocks. The Defendants were all represented by Mr Sayed H. Riza. Hettie was acquitted, but Alice, Winnie and Alf Mason were all convicted and imprisoned.

The family argued that they had been set up by two undercover agents and that the murder plan was fabricated. The key potential witness, ‘Alec Gordon’, was kept out of the way during the trial. Extensive research has revealed compelling evidence that he was in truth himself a convicted criminal with a history of mental instability.

The CCRC application is being made by Chloë Mason, Alice’s great granddaughter and an Australian citizen. It is supported by more than 170 pages of extensively referenced argument, drawing on records from newly opened government and institutional archives, family papers, photographs, digitised newspapers and historical research. Copies of hundreds of original documents have also been provided to assist the Commission in assessing the application.

Image from Chloë Mason.