Thursday, July 30, 1998 Published at 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Bentley judge attacked
Derek Bentley: Victim of an unfair trial
Appeal Court judges who quashed the conviction of Derek Bentley have criticised the former trial judge for preventing a fair trial.
Earlier, Edward Fitzgerald QC for Derek Bentley, told the court that the judge had been blatantly prejudiced and misdirected the jury on points of law.
Benedict Birnberg, a long-time lawyer for the Bentleys said the judgment was also a condemnation of the Home Office which refused to re-open the case.
He told the BBC: "None of the fresh evidence which was put to them had any bearing on the matter.
"This was consistent with the attitude all the way through."
He said: "It is not a question of whether he was the most frightening judge in this century. You have got to go back to Bloody Judge Jeffreys to find his like."
The case against Bentley turned on a single sentence.
The remark was interpreted as an encouragement to Craig to commit murder.
When the pair stood trial before Lord Goddard at the Old Bailey, the judge told the jury that, in law, Bentley was equally guilty of firing the shot.
There was contradictory evidence as to whether Bentley knew that Craig was carrying a gun.
No mention was made of Derek Bentley's mental condition, leaving the jury in total ignorance that they were sending to the gallows a man with the mind of a child.
Exceptionally in such a case, the jury added a plea for mercy along with the guilty verdict.
But the greatest doubt revolved around the "let him have it" remark.
Craig, who now lives quietly in a Bedfordshire village after serving a 10-year sentence, also denied Bentley said them, despite it being to his advantage to show that he was incited to murder.
He was too young, at 16, to hang.
There was also controversy over the meaning of the words.
Many have argued that far from urging Craig to shoot, Bentley was begging him to surrender the gun.
Others said the words did not ring true, because Bentley never called Craig "Chris", but "Kid" or "Kiddo".