Letter from George Lansbury, MP to King George V, requesting the release of Sylvia Pankhurst and demonstrating support for the movement from certain politicians and men, 11 June 1914. (Catalogue ref: HO 144/1264/237169)
As you can see from the image, the first page of this letter has been damaged and, while we have done our best to offer a complete transcription, some information has been lost.
To His Majesty King George.
I wish to approach your Majesty for the purpose of calling attention to the fact that the administration of law in this country has become a farce and a sham.
I am an ex prisoner, having been arrested and tried before a Magistrate for offences alleged against me in connection with the Suff[rage] agitation, these alleged offences being that I incited men and women [to] commit outrages. In default of finding sureties I was sentenced to [-] months imprisonment. This sentence I have not served, as I was released after hunger striking under what is known as the “Cat and Mouse” Act.
This took place in August 1913, since which time I have been unmolested by the Police and have spoken at all kinds of Suffrage and other meetings in all parts of the country, making exactly the same kind of speeches as that for which I was sentenced, even repeating exactly the same words.
At the same time that I was arrested, a young woman named Sylvia Pankhurst, was also arrested, and under the same act of Edward Third was also in default of sureties sentenced to three months imprisonment. She also went on hunger strike and was released under the same “Cat and Mouse” Act, but in her case she has been taken back to prison at least eight times. Last night she was again rearrested and is now lying in Holloway on hunger strike, and slowly but surely is being starved to death./
She is rearrested in the name of the King and in the same name I am released, and what I wish to ask is why should a man in my position by allowed to go free and a young woman be forced back into prison time after time.
This is so gross an instance of partiality and is so alien to the spirit of Justice, that I am impelled to ask you to override your Ministers and yourself exercise the prerogative of mercy and order the unconditional release of Miss Pankhurst forthwith or my rearrest.
Your obedient servant,
Some Time member of Parliament for Bow + Bromley