Copy typewritten letter from Frederick Lanchester to N.A. Thompson

Scope and Content

Lanchester explains reasons for contacting Thompson. He wants as much information as possible on his joint activities with Thompson “in connection with my writings on aeronautical matters, and the other is that I am collecting material for an autobiography”. Asks if he has kept drawings of aeroplane they produced, also for information of the case of Commander Porte. Reports of the Porte case will be found in “The Times” for 1917, August 4, page 3, col. d; August 11th, page 3; col. c; August 13th, page 3, col. d; August 18, page 11, col. d; August 20, page 3, col. c; November 20, page 5, col. a. Porte was charged jointly with W.A. Carson, a barrister, that “they unlawfully conspired together and with Lyman J. Seeley and other persons to contravene and set at naught the Prevention of Corruption Acts, 1906, in respect of divers sums of money amounting to about £48,000, paid from time to time, and received by Porte, an agent of the Crown, in respect of certain contracts made between the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty and the Curtiss Aeroplane Company, of New York”. It appears that Porte had held a naval commission, but on giving it up had gone to America and negotiated a contract with the Curtiss Company for 20 – 25% commission on sales of Curtiss planes which he might effect. On the outbreak of war Porte had taken a commission again and was concerned with the purchase of Curtiss planes by the Admiralty. He had made a secret arrangement with Carson that Carson would receive the commission money from Curtiss, would retain one quarter of it and would pay the remainder to Porte. This was in fact done. Carson was convicted of “giving a gift to J.C. Porte, and agent of the Crown as an inducement for showing favour to the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in relation to the business of the Crown”. Porte on the other hand was acquitted. It is not entirely clear on what grounds he escaped conviction. Porte was absent from court, because of illness, throughout the trial except for the first day of the preliminary hearing, and in the judgement in his favour much was said about his excellent services to the country, etc. Frederick Lanchester had strong suspicions of some kind of underhand “whitewashing”.