The title comes from Voltaire's 'Candide' (1759) in which he says that the British like to kill an Admiral occasionally 'to encourage the others'. This was a reference to the execution by the British Navy of Admiral John Byng in 1757 for failing to relieve the siege of Minorca.

After a long, sustained campaign by David Yallop, the Bentley family and others, Derek was given a posthumous Royal Pardon in 1993.