BY CASSANDRA: 'I'm a Sucker for a Pretty Face.But I Prefer the Face Not to Be Lolling Because of a Judicially Broken Neck' on the Day of Ellis's Execution in July 1955, Legendary Mirror Columnist Cassandra, Aka William Connor, Wrote a Searing Attack on Capital Punishment. Here Is an Edited Version:

Article excerpt


IT'S a fine day for hay-making. A fine day for fishing. A fine day for lolling in the sunshine. And if you feel that way - and I mourn to say that millions of you do - it's a fine day for a hanging.

If you read this before nine o'clock this morning, the last dreadful and obscene preparations for hanging Ruth Ellis will be moving up to their fierce and sickening climax. The hangman and his assistant will have been slipped into the prison at about four o'clock yesterday afternoon.

There, from what is grotesquely called "some vantage point" and unobserved by Ruth Ellis, they will have spied upon her when she was at exercise "to form an impression of the physique of the prisoner".

A bag of sand will have been filled to the same weight as the condemned woman and left hanging overnight to stretch the rope.

If you read this at nine o'clock then - short of a miracle - you and I and every man and woman in the land with head to think and heart to feel will, in full responsibility, blot this woman out. The hands that place the white hood over her head will not be our hands. But the guilt will belong to us as much as to the wretched executioner paid to do the job in accordance with the savage public will.

If you read this after nine o'clock, the murderess, Ruth Ellis, will have gone. The one thing that brings stature and dignity to mankind and raises us above the beasts will have been denied her - pity and the hope of ultimate redemption.

If you read these words of mine at mid-day the grave will have been dug while there are no prisoners around and the Chaplain will read the burial service after he and all of us have come so freshly from disobeying the Sixth Commandment: "Thou shalt not kill. …