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Controversy and abolition

The Homicide Act 1957

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, there were several high profile murder cases, including those of Bentley and Craig, Evans and Christie, and Ruth Ellis. The imposition of the death penalty in these cases was extremely controversial and caused the public to question capital punishment. In 1956, a motion to retain the death sentence but change the law on murder was defeated in the House of Lords, as was a Death Penalty (Abolition) Bill introduced by Sydney Silverman. The government then introduced a further bill, which retained the death sentence but introduced degrees of murder with different sentences. This was the basis of the Homicide Act of 1957.

Abolition in 1965

After Wilson's victory in 1964 and the report of the Longford Committee, the government revisited the question of abolition, and a Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Bill was finally enacted in 1965.


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