“Among the papers released to the Public Records Office in 1994 was a series of affidavits, eight in all, which testified to Casement’s homosexual behavior in October 1914. The affidavits were forwarded to London and sent by Thomson to Blackwell on 26th and 27th July 1916. The statements were taken between 11 July and 21 July …” Ó Síocháin: Roger Casement, Imperialist, Rebel, Revolutionary. p. 493.
Ó Síocháin places considerable faith in these ‘affidavits’ which he neither reproduces nor analyses but accepts uncritically. Nor does he comment on what purpose these were to serve after the trial. His satisfaction with the so-called affidavits is more significant when compared to CID Chief Basil Thomson’s dissatisfaction with them at the time as expressed in his handwritten letter to Blackwell of 26 July, 1916: “Not much in them.” (HO 144 1637 311643 140). That Ó Síocháin did not cite this significant letter is also significant. What Ó Síocháin does not tell his readers is that these are not affidavits at all. By misinforming his readers in this way he seeks to give legal weight to these unverified statements. An affidavit is a sworn statement of facts made under oath and under penalty of perjury in person before a legally authorized person. None of the statements contain such an oath by the deponent therefore they testify to nothing. Despite describing these as affidavits, Ó Síocháin is careful not to present them to his readers and prefers to selectively paraphrase parts of one only and so conceals what would be evident to any perceptive reader – that these are no better than gossip. Indeed, one of them announces itself as gossip heard that morning. The statement by Christensen’s mother confirms that she does not know if her son is homosexual since she has not seen him since 1906.
Even Basil Thomson concedes in the above cited letter that some of the statements are unsworn and if unsworn they cannot qualify as affidavits. A number were ‘sworn’ by the British Vice Consul Henry Charles Dick at Christiana (Oslo) who was not competent to give an oath on behalf of the deponent; his responsibility was simply to identify the deponent in his presence and witness the signature. It is the deponent who swears an oath in writing to the veracity of his/her own statement.
It appears that the alleged affidavits by two hotel porters were not in fact made by them at all; instead a single statement was sworn on oath by Jacobsen as being his ‘true account’ of what he claimed the porters knew but refused to testify in writing. The statement attributed to Korth is also made ‘under oath’ but not by Korth; it was made on 19 July 1916 and refers to gossip heard again by Jacobsen on that date and not in 1914.
An affidavit is not a statement of opinion, hearsay or gossip but of witnessed material facts made under oath by the person who witnessed the facts. Four statements have the hand of Jacobsen on them acting as proxy guarantor of authenticity and three of these are hearsay. The Vice Consul never took statements from four of the eight Norwegians. Degerud’s statement in Norwegian expresses no oath but the official translation claims it was made under oath.
Perhaps it was Ó Síocháin’s awareness of the Monty Python aspect in these absurd statements which induced him not to reproduce them in his very detailed book.