Dealings of the late Sir Ernest Cassel, great Jewish financier and personal friend of King Edward, were aired in the Old Bailey in Winston Churchill’s libel case against Lord Alfred Douglas, editor of the anti-Semitic sheet “Plain Truth” and author of a pamphlet entitled “The Murder of Lord Kitchner and the Truth About the Battle of Jutland and the Jews”.
The author of the defunct “Plain Truth” alleged that Mr. Churchill plotted with Sir Ernest Cassel to publish a false report of the Battle of Jutland with the object of creating a panic on neutral stock exchanges so that there would be an opportunity of making large profits in dealing in depreciated stocks and selling German stocks at high prices.
The libel further calleged that Cassel and his syndicate made a profit of Â£18,000,000 on British, stocks and Â£36,000,000 on German stocks, Mr. Churchill receiving Â£40,000 for his services.
The Attorney General denounced these statements as a lie and explained that the only part taken by Mr. Churchill in giving out the news of Jutland was “an appreciation of the battle” he wrote a day or two after the first communique at the request of the Earl of Balfour.
As to the millions proposed to have been made by Cassel, Sir Ernest was dead, but his confidential secretary would tell that beyond subscribing large amounts to the British war loan he had no dealings at that time in British stock of any kind.
The Earl of Balfour was the first witness called for the prosecution. He testified the original draft of the famous Jutland communique was in his own handwriting and that Mr. Churchill had nothing whatever to do either directly or indirectly with the drafting of the document.
The Prosecutor, describing the relationship between Churchill and Cassel, said they had been friends since Churchill’s childhood and that Cassel had been a friend of Churchill’s father before him. Churchill would tell the jury that the only gifts he ever received from Cassel were furniture for a room in his house, taken in 1905, and a check for Â£500 on his marriage day, eight years before the Battle of Jutland.
It was a wild suggestion, continued the witness, to say that Mr. Churchill continued to work for the Admiralty after he resigned the office of First Lord.
Mr. Churchill then entered the witness box and denied any connection with the official communique. He described how Lord Balfour had invited him to write an “appreciation” of the battle.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.