Breaking news: Author of death penalty book Alan Shadrake arrested

Singapore Democrats

Shadrake speaking at the book launch yesterday

Mr Alan Shadrake, author of Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock, was arrested this morning. Mr Shadrake, 75, had launched his book yesterday at the Post Museum. A British national, the author has written about the various cases of persons hanged under the drug law in Singapore.

It is understood that the Media Development Authority had lodged the complaint against Mr Shadrake who is being held for criminal defamation and contempt of court.

Authorities have ordered bookstores not to sell the book but have not officially banned it. There is no word yet about where Mr Shadrake is being held.

Mr Shadrake had first launched his book in Malaysia and had travelled to Singapore from Penang to launch it here.

At the launch yesterday, the author spoke about the difference in treatment between a German lady who was caught trafficking drugs and who faced the gallows. However, because of intense pressure from the German government her charge was reduced, and Ms Bohl was subsequently sentenced to five years imprisonment of which she served three.

Mr Shadrake compared her treatment to that of Vignes Moorthy, a poor labourer from Johor Baru, who was hanged for the same offence even though the prosecution’s case was highly contentious.

Anti-death penalty activists who helped to organise the book launch have been told by the police that no bail has yet been set for Mr Shadrake, whose passport has been impounded.

This website will provide updates on the Mr Shadrake’s situation when they become available.

Police statement


  1. In response to media queries, Police confirm that they have arrested British national Alan Shadrake. He is being investigated for alleged offences of criminal defamation and other offences. The arrest was made pursuant to a police report that was lodged on 16 July 2010 by Media Development Authority. Alan Shadrake has also been served with an application by the Attorney-General for an order of committal for Contempt of Court.
  2. Police investigations are ongoing.

Thanks and regards,

Sew Wei Ler, Humphrey
Media Relations Officer
Public Affairs Dept

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