Letter: End mandatory life sentences

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Sir: You report ('Review of automatic life sentence for murder 'unlikely' ', 23 July) that the Home Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, is opposed to early action to abolish mandatory life sentences for murder because the public would find it unacceptable.

What nonsense] The public is incensed by the monstrous injustice of existing legislation. Kiranjit Ahluwalia and Sara Thornton, driven to extreme action by sustained violence, received the same life sentences as the most calculating, cold-blooded terrorist murderers - because of the combination of an inadequate law on provocation and the mandatory life sentence for murder.

When I introduced my Bill in the House of Commons to widen the defence of provocation, it failed through lack of time and Home Office support. The alternative is to end mandatory life sentences, allowing judges to pass appropriate sentences. Justice would then be served and public demand satisfied.

Yours faithfully,

JACK ASHLEY

House of Lords

London, SW1

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