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Commander James Unkles.....Breaker Morant

James Unkles has appeared in a 60 Minutes program earlier this year and has applied for Government funding to make a comprehensive documentary about the Boer war and Morant

James writes

'I am a lawyer by occupation. I have spent 28 years in the Australian Navy. I have specialised in criminal law and have extensive experience as an advocate before Military courts martial and as an advocate in civil courts. I am an experienced barrister and solicitor and spent many years working as a Police and Crown prosecutor. I have reputation for addressing injustices and delight to ‘righting’ wrongs.

I first became involved in this case 12 months ago when I watched the ‘Breaker’ Morant movie (not for the first time!!) I then decided to research the history of Major James Francis Thomas, the Australian lawyer who defended Lieutenants Morant, Handcock and Witton on charges of murdering Boer prisoners during the Boer War.

I discovered to my dismay that Lieutenants Morant, Peter Handcock and Witton were not tried in accordance with the law of 1902 and that they had suffered great injustice. In short, the convictions for murder were unsafe. I decided then that a review process had to be done immediately. Much to my dismay, the case had never been reviewed and despite extensive literature on the Boer war and the life of Morant, no one had ever examined the details of the trials and had questioned the legitimacy of the evidence produced and the conduct of the trial.

I have used my extensive legal and military experience to study the case and have produced significant evidence that asserts Morant, Handcock and Witton were not tried in accordance with Military law of 1902. In October 2009, I forwarded two petitions for review, one to the Australian House of Representatives Petitions Committee and the other to the Queen. I followed the petitions by lobbying Australian politicians and writing letters to the British government. I succeeded in having the matter listed for hearing before the House of Representatives Petitions Committee. This committee conducted a hearing into the petition and described the grounds of appeal and compelling.

The work I have done has been a comprehensive study of military and civil law that applied at the time of the trials (1902). To highlight what I believe were fatal flaws in the arrest, investigation, trial and sentencing of the accused unsafe convictions resulted. I have used the historic process of petitioning to the Crown for the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy to argue for an inquiry into the circumstances that led to the execution of Morant and Handcock and the sentencing of Witton to life imprisonment.

I remain committed to having this matter examined and justice delivered posthumously so that Major Thomas’ work can be completed and the descendants of these men can rest knowing that Morant, Handcock and Witton served the Crown in a manner that is deserving of honourable recognition.

My work also includes completing a book and a detailed documentary about Australians in the Boer war and the plight of Lieutenants Morant, Handcock and Witton'.

Support for the work I am doing can be given through the poll and petition on my web site, www.breakermorant.com