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Assizes riots trials: Defence questions

At the start of riot trials at Beds Assizes in October 1919, defence counsels questioned Frederick James Rignall, manager of the public buildings of Luton, about Peace celebration arrangements in the town.

With no other council official or any member of the all-councillor Luton Peace Celebration Committee or their advisor, Town Clerk William Smith, due to appear in the witness box, Mr Rignall (pictured below) faced an hour of questioning.

Assizes trials judge, jury and lawyers

Sir Frederick Arthur Greer was a newly appointed High Court judge when he presided over the trials of Luton Peace Day riot defendants at the Beds Assizes in October 1919. The son of a Liverpool merchant, he had gained a first class honours degree in mental philosophy at the University of Aberdeen – potentially a significant factor in his verdicts at the trials.

Far from being afraid of re-igniting mob violence by his sentences three months after the riots - as some later accounts of the riot trials suggest – he seems to have shown some compassion for those before him.

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