A great many comments have been made on Twitter and elsewhere following yesterday’s third and final episode of the BBC’s 2016 drama, ‘Rillington Place’. The closing credits contained a caption indicating that Timothy John Evans, although pardoned, remains a convicted murderer.
A royal pardon was granted in October 1966, largely based upon the outcome of the public Inquiry held under Mr Justice Brabin which reported that year, but his conviction for murder was never quashed and so still stands. The end of the legal road in that regard came in 2004 when the Criminal Cases Review Commission confirmed its earlier decision not to refer the case to the Court of Appeal as there would, in their view, be no practical benefit to be gained from the time and expense of such proceedings as the pardon had already served effectively to exonerate the convicted person and restore his reputation in the public perception despite not expunging the conviction itself. This stems from the principle that respects the constitutional distinction between the roles of the monarch and the court.
Timothy Evans thus retains the dubious privilege of being one of only two executed criminals ever to be pardoned in England and Wales – and the only one to have had his conviction remain unquashed.