Royal prerogative of mercy
In the English and British tradition, the royal prerogative of mercy is one of the historic royal prerogatives of the British monarch, in which he or she can grant pardons (informally known as a royal pardon) to convicted persons. The royal prerogative of mercy was originally used to permit the monarch to withdraw, or provide alternatives to death sentences; the alternative of penal transportation to "partes abroade" has been used since at least 1617. It is now used to change any sentence or penalty.
Officially, this is a power of the monarch. Formally, in Commonwealth realms, this has been delegated to the Governor-General of the realm, which in practice means to government ministers who advise the monarch or viceroy, usually those responsible for justice. Specifically, it has been delegated to the Lord Chancellor in England and Wales; the Scottish Ministers in Scotland; the federal cabinet in Canada; the Minister of Justice in New Zealand; and the Attorney-General or Minister for Justice in Australia.
The royal pardon can be contrasted with the statutory pardon, which is a pardon issued through an Act of Parliament or an Order-in-Council. The statutory pardon is preferred in most cases. In the United Kingdom, only four royal pardons have been granted since the end of World War II.
In 2001 two inmates at HMP Prescoed, south Wales, received early release under the Royal prerogative of mercy when they saved the life of the manager of the prison farm when he was attacked and gored by a captive wild boar.
- Recipients of British royal pardons
- Recipients of Canadian royal pardons
- Recipients of New Zealand royal pardons
- Acts of the Privy Council of England, Colonial Series, Vol. I, 1613-1680, p.12. (1908)
- "The Governor-General - The Royal Prerogative of Mercy". Te Kawana Tianara o Aotearoa. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- "Royal Prerogative of Mercy - Fact Sheet". Parole Board of Canada. 4 November 2008.
- "Royal prerogative of mercy and referral of matters to state and territory courts". Attorney General's Department. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- Magrath, Paul (8 July 1993). "Law Report: Court recommends Bentley pardon: Regina v Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex parte Bentley - Queen's Bench Divisional Court (Lord Justice Watkins, Lord Justice Neill and Mr Justice Tuckey)". The Independent. London. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
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