CAMPAIGNERS fighting to clear the name of blind killer Yvonne Sleightholme are preparing to seek a royal pardon - and are being backed by her prison chaplains, it has emerged.

The chaplains believe there is a chance that Sleightholme, who was convicted 11 years ago of shooting her love rival, is the victim of a miscarriage of justice. She went blind soon after her arrest.

Yesterday, her supporters hailed the plea from Styal Prison's Anglican, Roman Catholic and Methodist chaplains as a major breakthrough.

Sleightholme, from Staxton, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire, was jailed in May 1991 for the murder of Jayne Smith.

The chaplains said in a letter they feared that, having refused to admit her guilt, Sleightholme's case could be lost in the system for years to come, without a pardon.

London-based campaigner Margaret Leonard said: "We are still in the middle of an application to the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, but if that doesn't lead to anything - and we suspect it will be turned down - then we will be seeking a royal pardon."

Sleightholme has already served the ten-year tariff imposed by a judge, but faces an indefinite future behind bars because she refuses to admit her guilt.

Mrs Smith was shot dead at Broats Farm, Salton, near Malton, North Yorkshire, in December 1988.

Her husband, William, a farmer, found her body. He had previously asked Sleightholme to marry him but had broken off the engagement and married Mrs Smith.

Sleightholme has consistently denied shooting Mrs Smith but her version of the events -that her rival was shot by hired hitmen - was rejected by the court.