Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday, 10 June 2003

Why capital punishment was, rightly, abolished

The Daily Telegraph reported in today's print edition (online link here) that the 53-year old conviction of George Kelly for murder is likely to be quashed today. Mr Kelly was executed for this crime in March 1950.

I am just watching BBC News 24 and they are reporting that the conviction against Mr Kelly has indeed been quashed, with the usual reason being given that the conviction is now deemed 'unsafe'. (Online link, added shortly afterword, here)

What this means, in plain English, that a 'mistake' was made - although as crucial evidence was withheld by the police (that a statement given to police by a prosecution witness, claiming that a man called Donald Johnson had confessed to the crime to him, had not been disclosed by police) and not shown to the defence, it is not at all clear to me that 'mistake' is quite the right word here.

As Mr Kelly is dead, and has been for 53 years, this is of absolutely no help to him, although it may be of some small comfort to his relatives - for example his daughter Kathleen Hughes who campaigned on his behalf.

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