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In 1977 a House of Representatives select committee on assassinations was struck in Washington to deal with the many conspiracy theories that had been floating around the deaths of John Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.

At one point, its senior staff approached the Canadian ambassador in Washington with a plan to investigate the possibility that Canadians had conspired to help James Earl Ray kill Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968.

Melvin Kriedman, a senior staff attorney for the committee, said the evidence gathered by the FBI suggested that "what triggered Ray" was a contact of some sort in Canada.

For his part, Ray had long claimed that he met a man named Raoul in Montreal in 1967, on his first trip to Canada. It was Raoul, Ray said, who dictated his movements until the day King was assassinated.

However, the U.S. committee's secret investigative plan, obtained by CBC News, goes beyond finding a Raoul.

It actually gives a last name to the infamous Raoul — Martell — and also sought a Rene Martinez, a Marjorie Holmes and a Clifford Andrews "concerning the allegation of a conspiracy to kill Martin Luther King Jr."

The Americans also wanted to interview RCMP officials familiar with David A. Stanley and a man simply named Lewandowski — two men who were associated with noted hatemonger and segregationist J.B. Stoner of the National States Rights Party.

Unknown to the Americans, Stanley, who had a brief fling with the ultra-right Canadian organization called Natural Order, had by 1968 recanted his racist ways.

The list of possible interviewees also included Ray's landladies, the people who helped him get the passport and ticket, as well as his aliases and anyone with a remote connection to Ray.

The official Canadian response, however, was to approve only limited cooperation with the Americans, citing human rights and privacy concerns. They refused to hand over RCMP files on Ray and declared that they would have to make contact with any possible Canadian interviewees to determine if they wanted to comply.

As a result, none of those sought by the U.S. committee testified and committee members complained about a lack of cooperation from Canada and of having to go through the RCMP as intermediaries.