Next Episode of The Ruth Ellis Files: A Very British Crime Story is
Series in which film-maker Gillian Pachter re-examines the Ruth Ellis case. In July 1955, Ruth was the last woman to be hanged in Britain for the murder of her lover David Blakely. It is a case that shocked the nation and has its place in ushering in the defence of diminished responsibility and the eventual abolishment of capital punishment. Gillian wants to find out why, in such a seemingly open-and-shut case, it still divides opinion on whether Ruth got the justice she deserved.
In this first episode, Gillian takes a forensic look at the police investigation and discovers worrying assumptions and problematic omissions. There is also a key witness who was never questioned by the police - Ruth's 10-year-old son Andre, who took his own life in the 1980s. He left behind an cassette that Gillian uses to piece together what the boy knew. Experts shed new light on the involvement on an alleged accomplice and Gillian tracks down those who met Ruth and David.
In episode two Gillian turns her attention to Ruth's trial, which took just a day and a half. She starts with a tape-recorded conversation from the 1980s between Ruth's son Andre and the barrister who led the prosecution. Andre expresses doubts about his mother's trial, calling into question her state of mind and whether she was a cold-blooded killer. Gillian is interested to know whether the defence shared these concerns and she turns her attention to Ruth's solicitor. There are immediate and compelling questions about how he was hired, who by and why. He pursued a defence strategy so risky that the judge was forced to put his foot down. Gillian draws on expert opinion from top legal minds who know the case intimately, and they paint a portrait of a woman trapped not only by the constraints of 1950s society but by the narrow parameters of English.
In episode three Gillian turns her attention to Ruth's execution and the last-minute attempts to save her life even though Ruth herself was determined to die. Gillian explores the role of her case in the introduction of the defence of diminished responsibility in England and its place in the eventual abolition of capital punishment in Britain in 1965. But Ruth's personal legacy is much more tragic as Gillian explores the effects of the events of 1955 on Ruth's family. This takes Gillian to a taped conversation recorded by Ruth's son in the 1980s, where his despair at what happened when he was ten is movingly clear; Andre lost his mother and he lost David who he loved. He took his own life in the 1980s and today his ashes are close to his mother's in a cemetery in Hertfordshire not far from where David Blakely was buried. Three victims of a truly tragic set of circumstances.
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