On this blog I can only share a small part of this complex story about Ruth Ellis with you. Here are a few more snippets.
Mr Fowler the fishmonger was so delighted with the article and the huge amount of new business it had generated, that he told me about his long-standing acquaintance with Muriel Jakubait the sister of the late Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK. Ron had lost touch with Muriel but insisted I should find her and get a good story. I reminded him I had only written about fish so far in my journalist’s career! On 7th August 2000, whilst on holiday in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland I began writing letters. My search for Muriel and my research into the Ruth Ellis story had begun.
Mr Fowler had shared some tape recordings and documents with me about the Ruth Ellis case, including a letter from the Lord Chancellor’s Department in London. which he received in 1989. Mr Fowler had written to the Department requesting sight of the Transcript of Ruth Ellis’s trial. The response as you can see below was negative: “….the files does [do] not contain the transcript of the trial and therefore unable to assist you any further”.
The above, previously unpublished, letter would prove to be important much later in my search for the truth.
I traced Muriel.
Eventually on Wednesday 6th March 2002 we sat down to start work on her book. I listened to her recollections and about landmarks in her life, and about the abuse inflicted on her by her father. I followed up with my own research and investigation which included many visits to The Public Record Office, now known as The National Archives. Many of the documents in the Ruth Ellis files there had been locked away for nearly 50 years when I started trawling through them with a fine tooth comb. Nothing was left un-read. Occasionally Muriel would come with me and she was able to read through documents about her sister which she had never seen before.
Here is a photograph I took of Muriel as we sat together one day in a private room at The National Archives. She is reading through some of the Petitions and letters written in 1955 to the British Home Secretary Gwilym Lloyd George, begging him to reprieve Ruth Ellis, her sister, from the death penalty.
On 12th July 1955, the day before Ruth Ellis was hanged, she dismissed her solicitor Mr Bickford who had represented her during the murder investigation and recalled her original solicitors Mr Victor Mishcon and Mr Simmonds. Mr Mishcon went on to become Lord Mishcon of Mishcon De Reya; he was the late Princess Diana’s solicitor. Following Mishcon and Simmond’s interview with Ruth Ellis in the condemned cell at Holloway prison, Mr Mishcon took a taxi to the Home Office. During the 90-minute interview with Ruth Ellis new facts were revealed about the shooting of Ruth’s so-called lover David Blakely:
Ruth Ellis was hanged at 9 am the next morning, 13th July 1955.
The following will give you a snapshot of the contradictory evidence that I uncovered during my investigation into the case.
At the top of this page I mentioned the letter sent to our local fishmonger in which the Lord Chancellor’s Department in London told him that there was no copy of the Transcript of Ruth Ellis’s trial in the files. Yet in a secret document, only recently released at The National Archives, I discovered that on 14 June 1962, 7 years after Ruth Ellis was hanged, Mr Justice Widgery approved the application for the Transcript of the Ruth Ellis trial from journalist Duggie Howell.
In a secret document, only recently opened at The National Archives, I read that on 14 June 1962 Mr Justice Widgery approved the application for the Transcript of the Ruth Ellis trial from journalist Duggie Howell. The Transcript was loaned four days later and returned the following year on 17 September 1963.
There are no books or articles about the Ruth Ellis case, written under the name of Duggie Howell, since his interpretion of Ruth Ellis’s lifestory in 1955 which was published in the Woman’s Sunday Mirror .
Why, I wonder, was this journalist given special access to the Trial Transcript in the 1960s, when it was not made available for public scrutiny until the late 1990s?
“In June 2003 I heard from the Criminal Appeal Office at the Royal Courts of Justice. My Appeal against Ruth’s conviction had been listed for hearing on 16 and 17 September 2003. I prayed that the truth would come out about the murder for which she hanged and it wouldn’t be another whitewash……Tweleve weeks later on 8 December 2003 in Court 9 at the Royal Courts of Justice, Lord Justice Kay announced that the Appeal had been dismissed”.
….more photographs to follow