Lord Haw Haw's wife was let off due to her sex

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The wife of the British wartime traitor "Lord Haw Haw" escaped execution because the British authorities did not want to prosecute a woman.

The wife of the British wartime traitor "Lord Haw Haw" escaped execution because the British authorities did not want to prosecute a woman.

Margaret Joyce, a typist from Carlisle, fled to Germany with her husband, William, in 1939. She had married Joyce, bodyguard to the British Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, in 1937 when she was 26. Together they formed the pro-Nazi National Socialist League in Britain. Both broadcast propaganda for Nazi Germany.

William Joyce specialised in mocking the British people for the "futility" of resistance. With his sneering upper-class accent, he was reviled and nicknamed "Lord Haw Haw". When his wife's voice was recognised she was called "Lady Haw Haw".

They were arrested in Luneberg in Germany a few days after the end of the war carrying false passports and a large quantity of money. William Joyce was executed as a traitor but the British authorities chose to accept her claim that she had adopted German citizenship before making broadcasts.

Files released by the Public Record Office yesterday revealed that the Post Office secretly opened all her mail for MI5 while she was in Holloway prison. One report noted: "Immediately before and after her husband's execution she seemed in a pitiful state."

Her story moved even the legendary MI5 interrogator Captain W J Skardon. He dropped proceedings against her, saying she "submitted meekly to treatment meted out to her during her detention" as she waited to hear her husband's fate.

Later he wrote in a secret memo: "There is no lack of evidence implicating her in the treasonable activities of her late husband, but the authorities do not think she need be punished further." She then pleaded not to be sent back to Germany and died in London in 1972.

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