Yesterday, Tuesday 8th December, I returned to The National Archives in Kew. I ordered various Ruth Ellis files including a file containing the Hospital Case Papers that I originally looked through when it was first released into the Archives sometime in 2005 after our book RUTH ELLIS MY SISTER’S SECRET LIFE was published.
When I scanned my Reader’s Card to check on the progress of my order I found that two files had to be read in what’s called the Invigilation Room at the Archives. I would have to be checked in and out and while I was in there would be watched over by a CCTV camera. These files contained, amongst other things, documents that could only be seen under supervision. One file contained photographs of David Blakely’s dead body; according to a member of TNA staff they could upset other researchers in the main reading room. But I didn’t understand why the Hospital Case Papers would have to be viewed in secret. This must be a new rule as I looked through them originally in the main reading room.
The Hospital Case Papers are a complete record in ledger form of Ruth Ellis from the day she was admitted to Holloway Prison Hospital on 11.4.1955 until she is discharged from the hospital on 21.6.1955. She was under strict observation day and night in the prison hospital.
In 2006 I wrote a series of six articles for True Detective magazine that were published between April and September that year. I uploaded the articles on to this blog and to view them you’ll need to scroll down to my blog Post dated 19.9.2012. The National Archives emailed me as soon as the Hospital Case Papers were released there inviting me to view the newly released file. It was in these papers I discovered Ruth Ellis, on admission to Holloway Prison Hospital on 11 April 1955, had admitted to the hospital doctor, sometime between 5.10 pm and 5.43 pm that she had actually had an abortion not long before the shooting; not a miscarriage as she had previously stated to the police which she claimed had been caused by Blakely punching her in the stomach.
Next, I must briefly turn to Robert Hancock, Laurence Marks and Tony Van Den Bergh, Georgina Ellis and Carol Ann Lee’s accounts in their respective books on Ruth Ellis, as to how Ellis came to write a letter to David Blakely’s mother on 12 April 1955.
…more to follow shortly
In Robert Hancock’s 1963 book, “Ruth Ellis the last woman to be hanged” Hancock wrote:
The following is from Laurence Marks and Tony Van Den Bergh’s 1977 book “Ruth Ellis, A case of diminished responsibility?”
Georgina Ellis in her 1995 book “Ruth Ellis, My Mother” wrote:
Carol Ann Lee in her 2012 book “A fine day for a hanging, The Real Ruth Ellis Story” makes reference to the Hospital Case Papers. On numerous occasions she quotes specifically from various ledger entries. However, on the subject of Ruth Ellis’s letter to Mrs Cook dated 12.5.1955, instead of quoting from the Hospital Case Paper she wrote the following:
From reading these excerpts from the four books it would be easy to assume Ruth Ellis did sit down and compose a letter on 12 April 1955.
However things were not as simple as they may have appeared from the typed and signed copy of Ruth Ellis’s letter almost on its own at the very back of the Hospital Case Paper file, and from which all four authors in question have quoted. Was there another interpretation?
…to be continued…
In Part One of Ruth Ellis’s Letters and the Hospital Case Papers I mentioned that Ruth Ellis was under strict observation day and night in the prison hospital, from 11th April 1955 until 21 June 1955. Everything about Ruth was recorded in the Hospital Case Papers ledger, for example: what she ate and how well she ate it; if she took supper; what she drank; if she had cocoa at night time; how she slept; whether she was talkative or quiet; how she read most of the time; how she rested in bed most of the day; how she arranged a bunch of flowers; that she was calm and pleasant; how she played patience in bed; and how she seemed after seeing her solicitors. On 11 April 1955 it was also stated in the ledger that “the police have taken possession of her spectacles”.
Ten years separate my investigations into the Hospital Case Papers. I originally looked at them when they were newly released at The National Archives. This week I decided to look at those papers again with fresh eyes!
This week at The National Archives, while sitting in the Invigilation Room, it suddenly struck me, by its absence, that there is no mention in the file containing the Hospital Case Papers, of Ruth Ellis writing a letter to Mrs Cook, Blakely’s mother on 12 April 1955. In fact there is no mention of any writing being done by Ruth Ellis until 25 April 1955 when the Evening Report in the ledger stated:
“Has been writing and reading most of the evening. No complaints”.
Nor is there any mention in the ledger of Ruth writing letters three months later to her solicitors Mr Mishcon and Mr Simmons on 12/13th July 1955 – shown on my Blog Post dated 3 December 2015.
It wasn’t until 13 June 1955 that her letter writing was referred to in the Hospital Case Papers. I read:
…”writes letters poorly spelt but business like and ?(word illegible) to her friends and relatives”.
When I visited The National Archives ten years ago on Saturday 12 November 2005 I listed fourteen new pieces of evidence that I managed to find in the newly released files. One new item refers to page 49 of a police statement made by Detective Chief Inspector L Davies of Golders Green police station in which he is referring to the letter apparently written by Ruth Ellis on 12 April 1955. It was addressed to Mrs Cook and had been returned to the police. The statement read:
“No enquiry has yet been made to ascertain particulars of the person who can speak of receiving this letter. It is addressed to Mrs Cook but this lady is old and is very ill following the death of her son”.
The entry in The Hospital Case Paper for 11th July 1955:
“Weight 103lbs. To be no reprieve”
And for the 13th July 1955:
…more to follow
One thing comes to mind at this point….a day in 2002 when I was interviewing Muriel Jakubait, Ruth Ellis’s elder sister. She told me how she’d had a phone call from Ruth; she thought it must have been some weeks before Blakely’s murder and while she was living in Egerton Gardens in London. Muriel said Ruth was in a state and told her that she was being “set up”. Muriel didn’t understand what Ruth meant and couldn’t remember any more about the conversation. As I was unable to uncover any more detail to back up this circumstantial evidence I felt I could not include the reference to the conversation in the manuscript of our book. But I did promise myself that if the occasion arose I would mention it. Thirteen years after that conversation with Muriel, and with my additional research, I believe the time is right.
Ruth Ellis was observed in Holloway prison around the clock from the day she entered Holloway Prison Hospital on 11th April 1955 to the moment she stepped out of the condemned cell to be hanged on 13 July 1955.
Evelyn Galilee was Ruth’s wardress who guarded Ruth while she was in the condemned cell and was with her from very early on the morning of her execution. Evelyn spoke to me following the publication of RUTH ELLIS, MY SISTER’S SECRET LIFE. One of the facts challenged by Evelyn’s eyewitness account is the authenticity of letters that Ruth Ellis apparently wrote and sent from the condemned cell.
Firstly, all the letters allegedly written by Ruth, were written in pen. Evelyn told me categorically that “No prisoner in the condemned cell was allowed to use a pen, everything had to be written in pencil and was strictly supervised.”
Also, the “Letter officer” at Holloway prison would have blanked out names on letters that Ruth sent from prison, yet names are clearly mentioned in Ruth’s correspondence.
Finally, in Ruth’s letter dated 12th July 1955, to Mr Simmons, her original solicitor, she refers to remarks made by David Blakely’s brother in a newspaper article following her trial. Evelyn informed me that, “No prisoner in the condemned cell was allowed access to a newspaper or its contents.”
In 2007 I managed to trace a relation of Mr Simmons, who with Mr Mishcon had visited Ruth Ellis in the condemned cell at Holloway prison at midday on 12 July 1955 the day before she was executed. The relation told me on the phone that Mr Simmons had received “the most extraordinary letter” from Ruth Ellis written just before she was hanged. “He kept it preciously. But it disappeared sometime in the 1970s”. Mr Simmons never saw it again.
Were these letters (not accounted for in the Hospital Case Papers) allegedly written by Ruth Ellis to her solicitors Mr Mishcon and Mr Simmons on 12th/13th July 1955, produced by someone who had received training in the technique of faking handwriting? If so, it’s unthinkable. And who was that someone?