Bentley's sister to fight on after Clarke denies pardon

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THE DECISION to deny a posthumous pardon to Derek Bentley, hanged 40 years ago after the murder of a policeman, was met with outrage and anger from politicians, campaigners and lawyers.

Bentley's sister Iris vowed to fulfil the promise she made to her condemned brother. 'I won't give up the campaign - not until the day I die,' she said.

Last night only the Police Federation had come out in support of the announcement by the Home Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, that while he believed Bentley should not have been hanged, there was no reason to think him innocent.

Bentley, who was 19 but had the mental age of an 11-year-old, was sent to the gallows in 1953 after Christopher Craig, his accomplice in a burglary, killed one policeman and wounded another. Although he had pulled the trigger after Bentley was already in police custody, Craig was reprieved because he was only 16. He served 10 years.

Yesterday, at a conference to explain his decision, Mr Clarke was emphatic that Bentley had been correctly convicted of murder. There were no grounds for a royal pardon or a public inquiry.

He said his review of the murder and trial had been 'careful and dispassionate'. He added: 'While I personally agree that Derek Bentley should not have been hanged, I cannot simply substitute my judgment for that of the then Home Secretary.'

Miss Bentley said she would appeal to the Queen.

Sister's fight, page 3

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