Medak might have wanted to prove that the justice system makes mistake and sometimes those mistakes cannot be fixed, like the mistake or the Derek Bentley (Bentley) and Christopher Craig (Craig) case, where someone was hanged for a miss interpretation of evidence.
The 1953 execution of Derek Bentley, a mentally handicapped 19-year-old who was falsely convicted of murder, was pivotal in bringing about the end of capital punishment in Britain.
The film's Director, Peter Medak, made this film in 1991 because he thought the judicial hanging of Derek Bentley in 1953 was a grave miscarriage of justice.
Bentley was convicted along with codefendant Christopher Craig of the murder of Police Constable Sidney Miles during an attempted robbery. Because Craig was only 16 years old at the time, he could not be sentenced to death. Bentley was never even accused of shooting Miles, as Craig was. He was convicted of "joint enterprise" on the perjured testimony of three police officers who said Bentley had yelled out to Craig: "Let him have it." Bentley never said anything of the kind. In fact, police borrowed the phrase from another case in which a police officer was shot a decade earlier.
Peter Medak chose to make a film about the case of Derek Bentley because he wanted to get across his views on capital punishment, as he thought it was wrong and wanted other people to see why he felt this way.
It was the judge in the case - Lord Goddard - who made sure that Bentley would be killed. One man - a British lord - wrote an affidavit to the British government saying he had heard Goddard say during the trial that "at all costs Craig and Bentley were to be found guilty." When both Craig and Bentley denied that they had said, "Let him have it," Judge Goddard lashed out: "Those words are sworn to by three police officers. Are you going to say they are conspicuous liars? Do you believe these three officers have come into the box and sworn what is deliberately untrue?" Goddard apparently got perverted pleasure from sending people to death. His clerk later revealed that he had to put out a spare pair of pants for Goddard whenever the judge handed down the death sentence, as he always ejaculated in his pants.
The lies and coverups were clear from the beginning. Before the trial, the defense team was told that the gun used in the killing was missing, so they could not have it for forensics testing. The gun then turned up mysteriously during the trial at a police station. A police officer later admitted that the bullet that killed Miles was never found - and that "a proper forensic examination would have proved that Craig had not killed the police officer." The belief now is that Miles was killed by a bullet from a police gun. And one of the officers on the roof that night admitted a decade ago that Bentley never said, "Let him have it."
A few years later, the government abolished the death penalty in Britain - in part as a response to the outrage around Bentley's case. Now, after nearly a half a century, the British justice system admitted what many people knew all along - that Derek Bentley went to his death an innocent man.
Since 1976, 143 US death row prisoners have been exonerated completely for their crimes. Who knows how many have been executed for a crime they did not commit? The flaws in state systems that dole out the ultimate irreparable punishment have been documented in the .
The Case of Craig and Bentley 1953 On Sunday the 2nd of November 1952, Derek Bentley went out with his friend, 16 year old Christopher Craig, to see if they could carry out a burglary..Craig and Bentley were on the roof as the police arrived and attempted to run but DC Fairfax quickly detained Bentley, while Craig decided to shoot his way out and fired at DC Fairfax wounding him in the shoulder.
At some time during the shooting, Bentley is alleged to have said the now famous words "Let him have it, Chris".When other policeman arrived Craig continued to shoot but eventually ran out of bullets and threw himself off the roof in a vain attempt to avoid capture.
Sometimes such mistakes cannot be corrected as in the case of Derek Bentley (Bentley) and Christopher Craig (Craig) where someone was hanged for a misinterpretation of evidence.
Mass public protest By law the house of commons could not debate an individual case until after the execution had been carried out Members of Parliament will stage a dramatic eleventh-hour battle in the House of Commons tonight in a bid to save the life of 19-year-old Derek Bentley, due to be hanged tomorrow morning for his part in the murder of a London policeman.