Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Tuesday, April 20, 1999 Published at 04:00 GMT 05:00 UK


Straw urged to reconsider Bentley decision

Maria Bentley Dingwall at her uncle's grave

Lawyers for Derek Bentley - who was wrongly executed for the murder of a police officer in 1953 - are to ask the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to reconsider his decision not to pay compensation.

The BBC's Jon Silverman: Judicial misconduct could justify an ex-gratia payment
Last week, Mr Straw announced that the case fell outside the statutory compensation scheme. He also said he would not authorise a discretionary payment.

But lawyers believe a significant High Court ruling in four other cases on Monday may lead to a change of heart.

[ image: Derek Bentley: Controversy over his execution led to a film]
Derek Bentley: Controversy over his execution led to a film
Mr Bentley was 19 when he was convicted of the rooftop shooting in south London of a policeman and sentenced to death by hanging, although it was his young accomplice who fired the fatal shot.

The jury at his trial was not told that Mr Bentley had a mental age of 11 and controversy over the case helped to fuel the campaign for the abolition of capital punishment.

Solicitor Benedict Birnberg: Jack Straw adhered to the usual policy - that was wrong
After a long fight by relatives to clear his name, Mr Bentley's conviction was quashed last year on the grounds of gross bias by the judge at his trial, Lord Goddard.

Last week, the home secretary decided that this put the matter outside the compensation scheme and also that there were no sufficiently exceptional circumstances to justify a special payment.

[ image: Denis Bentley: Condemned the decision not to award compensation]
Denis Bentley: Condemned the decision not to award compensation
But the High Court has now ruled that judicial misconduct could justify an ex-gratia payment.

The judges sent back to Mr Straw claims on behalf of four defendants who had had convictions quashed for theft or fraud and had spent time in custody.

Lawyers for the Bentley family said they would now argue that the Mr Straw had improperly fettered his discretion and would ask him to think again. If not, they say they will challenge his decision at the High Court.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

12 Apr 99 | UK
Bentley pay-out hopes dashed

30 Jul 98 | UK
Bentley cleared after 46 years

Internet Links

Derek Bentley

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online