HC Deb 16 March 1961 vol 636 cc141-2W
66. Mr. M. Foot

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the case of Timothy John Evans.

75. Mr. S. Silverman

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has now completed his study of the case of Timothy John Evans; and whether he will now make a further statement on the matter.

Mr. Deedes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has completed his consideration of the case of Timothy John Evans: and what conclusions he has reached.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Several Questions have been put to me on the case of Timothy John Evans following the publication of Mr. Kennedy's book "Ten Rillington Place". I have examined the book with great care, and I am satisfield that its interest lies in its presentation of the case for believing Evans to have been innocent rather than in its addition to the information already available about the death of Mrs. Evans and her child.

I know that some people in this House and elsewhere believe that Evans was wrongly convicted of the murder of his child. I know there are others, who. though not convinced of his innocence, have serious doubt about his guilt. There are also others who feel there is no reason to doubt the correctness of the conviction.

I have reached the conclusion that a further inquiry could not bring any new information to light, and that witnesses' recollection of the events of 1949 must inevitably have been dimmed by the pest sage of time and may have been confused by the discussion and speculation to which the case has given rise.

Before coming to this conclusion, I examined the claim that a suggestion made by Dr. Teare in his evidence in the magistrates' court would, if true, point to Christie as the murderer of Mrs. Evans. This has been the subject of letters in the Sunday Times by Dr. Teare on 5th March and Mr. Kennedy on 12th March. It seems clear that no definite deduction about the circumstances in which Mrs. Evans met her death can now be drawn from the medical evidence.

I have given careful consideration to the suggestion that Evans should be granted a free pardon. There is no precedent for recommending a posthumous free pardon, and the legal powers to do so are doubtful. In any event a free pardon cannot be granted without a certainly which is not possible in this case. In view of the provisions of Section 6 of the Capital Punishment Amendment Act, 1868, I am in these circumstances unable to agree to the proposal that Evans's remains should now be removed from Pentonville Prison.