Monday, 11 March 2013

Ruth Ellis

Ruth Ellis, fifty eight years after her execution, is still a controversial figure in the history of British Justice.  She was executed by hanging in July 1955, and indeed, was the last woman executed in Britain.  She was convicted of shooting to death her lover David Blakeley, a racing driver.  She shot him in front of witnesses and even handed her gun to a Police Officer who was immediately on the scene.  She openly admitted to murder and did so in court which sealed her fate.  She was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint, and it was claimed that he resigned over this execution which was something Pierrepoint emphatically denied.  

    Was it an open and shut case, as it appeared, or was it something much more sinister?  The conspiracy theory has been put forward by the sister of Ellis, Muriel Jakubait and writer Monica Weller.  She claims that her sister was set up by the Secret Services, to keep her quiet about the spy scandals that had rocked Britain in the early fifties.  That she was told that she would not hang and so kept quiet and that the real killer was Desmond Cussen.  One of the witnesses was a young boy and he recently recalled what he witnessed all those years ago, and it was that he saw Ellis chase and fire bullets into Blakeley.  The claim is that Cussen was hiding across the road and fired at Blakeley to kill him and frame Ellis.  There are a number of points that do not stand up in my view.  Burgess & Maclean defected to Russia in 1951.  Blakeley was killed in 1955, so what would she know that would be damaging to the State?  Her acquaintance with Stephen Ward went back to the late 1940`s.  What did that prove?  Ward was a high society pimp.  Of course he would have rubbed shoulders with powerful, political figures.  Somebody had to provide them with girls for their jollies.  Ward only hit the headlines over the Profumo Affair in which the Minister for War, John Profumo, had an affair with Christine Keeler, whilst she was sleeping with a Russian Naval Attach√©.  When it hit broke, Profumo misled the House of Commons over the affair and ended up resigning.  Ward was put up on charges and he ended up committing suicide.  They present no evidence that Cussen was hiding across the street and there is a lot of speculation. 

    So do I buy their claim of a big conspiracy and a frame up?  No.  Simple as.  What I do think about their book is that it is a brilliantly researched work and if people are genuinely interested in the life of Ruth Ellis, it is a far better acquisition than the other books on the subject.  As a footnote, the wife of John Profumo was the actress Valerie Hobson, who appeared in the Hollywood classic "Bride of Frankenstein" alongside Boris Karloff & Colin Clive, when she was only eighteen.