Monday, April 12, 1999 Published at 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Bentley pay-out hopes dashed
Maria Bentley Dingwall is prepared to go to the courts again
The family of Derek Bentley, convicted of murder and hanged in 1953, have been told they are not entitled to compensation, despite the quashing of his conviction by the Court of Appeal last year.
There were no other "sufficiently exceptional" circumstances leading up to his conviction to merit a payment, Mr Straw said.
The jury was not told Mr Bentley had a mental age of 11 and controversy over the case helped to fuel the campaign for the abolition of capital punishment.
After a long fight to clear his name, relatives finally learned last July that the conviction had been quashed because the trial judge's summing up and direction to the jury had denied him a fair trial.
The Bentley family applied for compensation within days of that decision.
Derek Bentley's surviving relatives, his niece Maria Bentley Dingwall and brother Denis, condemned the home secretary's ruling and said they would take their challenge to it as far as the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
Mrs Dingwall Bentley said no amount of money could compensate the family for the loss of her uncle's life.
But she said a payment was the only form of "retribution" open to them.
"As soon as they killed him my family gave up their lives to make sure he was exonerated. What price can you put on that?'' she said.
"It's just a form of justice for us. We can't take anyone to court for Derek's killing. This is our only form of retribution. I really thought we would receive something."
Mr Straw said: "I am deeply sorry that Derek Bentley was executed as a result of a miscarriage of justice and that the quashing of his conviction has come so late for his surviving relatives.
"My decision not to make a compensation payment must not be interpreted as detracting from Derek Bentley's acquittal."
Tamsin Allen, the Bentleys' legal representative, said: "It's based on the fact that the Court of Appeal decision was not based on the production of any new evidence.
"Strictly speaking that doesn't fall within the compensation scheme but there is the ex-gratia scheme which says there can be compensation when there are exceptional circumstances.
"There can be no more exceptional circumstances than in this case."