Today, a conclusion was reached in the corruption case against Wing-Commander John Cyril Porte RNAS and William Augustus Casson.
Porte is currently working for the RNAS and has been instrumental in the development of flying boats at RNAS Felixstowe.
The case has come about because before the War Porte worked for the Curtiss Aeroplane company and was in the process of designing an aircraft for crossing the Atlantic. As part of his deal with Curtiss, Porte received a 20-25% commission on all flying boats sold that he had designed.
When the War broke out, the project was suspended and Porte returned to England to work with the RNAS. Porte’s agreement with Curtiss however remained in place. Porte and William Augustus Casson (a former Barrister) made an agreement by which all the commissions received from sales were received by Casson, who would retain one-quarter for himself and pay over the remainder to Porte. In his role at Felixstowe, Porte was responsible for the purchase of seaplanes and indeed many orders were made by the Admiralty to the Curtiss Company.
It seems however that the authorities are keen to bring a swift end to this messy situation. Today, Casson pleaded ” Guilty ” to 12 counts of an indictment charging him with giving a gift to Porte, an agent of the Crown, as an inducement for showing favour to the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in relation to the business of the Crown. Mr. Casson pleaded ” Not Guilty ” to counts charging him with conspiracy to defeat the law, and with aiding Wing-Commander Porte to accept gifts.
The Attorney-General, at the opening of the proceedings, announced that in the case of Commander Porte he wished to enter a nolle prosequi. In making this announcement, the Attorney-General said that at the outbreak of war Commander Porte was in America occupying a commercial position in the aeronautic world which was a very advantageous one. Immediately on the outbreak of the war he abandoned that position, came to England, and placed his services unreservedly at the disposal of his country. At that time and now he was suffering from a most grave haemorrhage of the lung. At the present Commander Porte was doing invaluable work at the Admiralty in regard to the national defence, and the Admiralty were most anxious to retain his services. The progress of the malady from which he suffered was such that it was not possible to suppose that in any event the period for which his services would be at the disposal of his country would be a very protracted one. All the money paid to Porte, with the exception of £10,000, which had been disposed of; remained in his possession and he had agreed that the balance would be handed over by his representatives to the authorities.
Casson, was fined £500 on each of the 12 counts, plus costs. THe police had found £6000 at Casson’s house and this was used to discharge the fine as Casson had no other income.