The convicted killer who heroically risked his life to stop London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan with a narwhal tusk has been granted a pardon by the Queen.
The Royal Prerogative of Mercy granted by Her Majesty on the advice of her Government is unprecedented for a jailed murderer.
It means Gallant, 42, will have 10 months knocked off the 17-year sentence handed to him in 2005 – and he could now go before a Parole Board next June to rubber stamp his freedom.
The Ministry of Justice confirmed the decision was made as a result of Gallant’s “exceptionally brave actions”.
The move could have sparked controversy but for the immense dignity of the family of firefighter Barrie Jackson, who Gallant battered to death outside a pub – the decision to free the murderer early has been backed by his victim’s family.
Jackson’s student son Jack, 21, said yesterday: “I have mixed emotions – but what happened at London Bridge goes to show the reality that people can change.” He even said he might be willing to meet his dad’s killer one day.
Gallant was on his first day release at a Learning Together conference set up to help rehabilitate prisoners when the attack took place last November.
He was in the Fishmongers Hall next to London Bridge along with his former prison mentor, friend and conference co-ordinator Jack Merritt, 25.
Convicted terrorist Khan, 28, had also been invited to the event as a rehabilitating offender out on licence, despite being jailed in 2012 for planning to bomb the London stock exchange.
After Khan produced two knives and went berserk killing Jack and his fellow co-ordinator Saskia Jones, 23 – both Cambridge graduates – Gallant was handed an ornamental five-foot narwhal tusk from a wall by civil servant pal Darryn Frost
to use as a weapon.
He chased the terrorist on to the bridge where Khan was shot dead by police. Afterwards, Gallant said he “didn’t hesitate” to confront Khan.
In a statement he said: “I could tell something was wrong and had to help. I saw injured people. Khan was stood in the foyer with two large knives in his hands. He was a clear danger to all.”
Last night Jack’s father David, 55, of Cottenham in Cambridgeshire, said: “Steve fully deserves this pardon, or reduction in sentence. It is fantastic.
“He was very close to Jack and he turned his life around and reformed. I am really pleased for him.”
The twohad met previously through Jack’s role at rehabilitation service Learning Together in 2016.
He mentored Gallant behind bars. Gallant described him as a “role model and friend”.
Referring to his conviction for murder, Gallant said: “It is right I was handed a severe penalty for my actions. Once I’d accepted my punishment, I decided to seek help. When you go to prison, you lose control of your life. Bettering yourself becomes one of the few things you can do while reducing the existing burden on society.” Now he has been given a rare second chance.
Last night a Ministry of Justice official confirmed Gallant had been granted a pardon. He said it was “in recognition of his exceptionally brave actions… which helped save people’s lives despite the tremendous risk to his own”.
The last murderer to be given a Royal pardon was nearly 25 years ago when former IRA leader and police informer Sean O’Callaghan, who died in 2017, was freed.
The most high-profile royal pardon was awarded posthumously to Alan Turing in 2013, overturning the wartime codebreaker’s 1952 gross indecency conviction for a then-illegal homosexual relationship.
Royal insiders say the Queen “acts on the advice of Her Majesty’s Government” when signing off such pardons.
Yesterday Gallant’s victim’s son Jack said he had had “no idea about the pardon” for his father’s killer.
Gallant had been among a gang who battered his dad Barrie to death outside The Dolphin pub in Hull in April 2005. It was so savage paramedics who tried to revive him couldn’t find his mouth.
A court heard Gallant planned the assault believing Barrie had attacked his girlfriend eight days before.
Jack said: “In my mind, Gallant has nearly done his time and if someone has undergone rehabilitation and change, which it seems he has, then it’s fair enough. Every time his name is mentioned it brings back memories for me, my brother and mum but it happened years ago. I was four at the time.” Asked if he would consider meeting Gallant, Jack said: “Maybe. I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Last night Gallant spoke through his solicitor, Neil Hudgell, who said: “Steve feels a debt of gratitude to all those who helped him to achieve a Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
“He is passionate about using his knowledge and experiences to help others steer away from crime.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The Lord Chancellor has granted Steven Gallant a Royal Prerogative of Mercy reducing his minimum tariff of 10 months in recognition of his exceptionally brave actions at Fishmongers’ Hall, which helped save people’s lives despite the tremendous risk to his own.”