Sir: John Lloyd gave evidence in court against his friends. The judge in the case against John Harris said of Mr Lloyd, "whether here or abroad he must sooner or later face his comrades".
In fact, John Lloyd has not had to face his "comrades". There has been no vindictive campaign against him, as alleged by Maritz van den Berg (Letters, 31 October). On the contrary, for 30 years Mr Lloyd has lived in peace and prosperity, it seems. It is only now, when he might become an MP, that his former "comrades" are trying to point out to the electorate and the Labour Party that the impression which appears to exist in Exeter that John Lloyd was a hero of the South African resistance is incorrect.
Maritz van den Berg is correct in stating that my late husband "confessed", but Mr van den Berg has forgotten that what he confessed to was manslaughter (which would have carried a life prison sentence). John Harris denied intending to kill, the necessary ingredient of a murder conviction (which brought the death penalty). It was John Lloyd who gave that evidence which led to the court finding that John Harris had intended to kill.
I do not know the precise circumstances in which Mr Lloyd came to give that evidence. If he did so under great duress, I do not, of course, condemn him for his "human frailty".
However, having given evidence against his "comrades", Mr Lloyd was released and came to England to start a new life. We were advised by our lawyers at that time that if Mr Lloyd were to retract his evidence, there would be a significant chance that the death sentence would be commuted to life imprisonment. Accordingly, I sent a telegram to Mr Lloyd asking him to intervene, and a friend came from South Africa to England to bring that request in person. John Lloyd refused to help us. It is for that refusal that I think an explanation is now required.
Mr van den Berg is indeed correct that my late husband bore no grudge against John Lloyd. But he also believed that Mr Lloyd would, from the safety of England, retract his evidence.
31 OctoberReuse content