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50th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Death Penalty in the UK

  • News
  • 9 Nov 2015

Today is the 50th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in the UK.

The Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Bill was introduced by Sydney Silverman MP in 1964 as a private member’s bill. The bill was passed in 1965 and the Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Act received Royal Assent on 8th November 1965, and came into force the following day.

To celebrate this historic achievement, we are delighted to launch a monograph by Julian B. Knowles QC: “Abolition of the Death Penalty in the United Kingdom: How it Happened and Why it Still Matters”. Drawing on his own extensive advocacy experience in individual death row cases, Knowles examines the history of capital punishment in the UK, and in particular, the sequence of events that led to its abolition and analyses the impact that domestic and international law would have on any attempt to reintroduce it.

The report will be officially launched at the House of Lords on Monday 9th November at an event hosted by Mark Pritchard MP and Baroness Vivien Stern CBE, co-chairs of the APPG on the Abolition of the Death Penalty. Julian B. Knowles QC and Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, who was instrumental in the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty for murder in the UK, will be speaking at the event.

Julian B. Knowles QC will also deliver a talk at the Photographers’ Gallery, in conjunction with the exhibition, Burden of Proof, on Wednesday 11th November. Julian will analyse the reasons why capital punishment was abolished in the UK despite continuing popular support, and will identify lessons from UK’s experience which informs the worldwide campaign against the death penalty.

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