The Moors murders 50 years on: how Brady and Hindley became an awful 'celebrity' template
Hindley was irresistibly drawn to Brady, seeing romance and intelligence in from the vicinity of the market in Ashton-Under-Lyne, never to be seen again Knowing Brady through the family connection, Smith was initially. Ian Brady and his girlfriend Myra Hindley were British serial killers, as a fruit merchant and he helped Brady find a job at the Smithfield Market. In their relationship, Brady took the role of the teacher and Hindley was the. Former Manchester detective Geoff Knupfer interviewed Myra Hindley and Ian Brady in the s.
Five boxes of letters and cuttings, the private papers of the editor David Astor, paint a pathetic and sometimes disturbing portrait of the prison life of Hindley, who died 10 years ago this month.
Her relationship with Astor, and her doomed attempts to escape her fate as "a witch", provide a strange, dark coda to a life lived in hell. From Gladstone on, liberal Britain has had a penchant for taking quixotic stands against intractable expressions of evil in the human condition, even at the risk of ridicule.
David Astor, who was editor of the Observer inwas sympathetic to everything represented by Hindley's fate. As a young man, he'd had analysis with Anna Freud and remained in search of existential meaning. Astor wanted the Observer to be the paper of psychological understanding. Under his editorship, the newspaper quested for "sense and reason" in a world ruled by insanity, and he was always attracted to apparently insoluble cases.
He had campaigned for years to secure the release of Nelson Mandela; the reports he commissioned from Anthony Sampson from the Rivonia trial are credited by many in the ANC as saving Mandela from the gallows. The Hindley case braided together all his deepest interests. But it was strangely prophetic.
On and off, Astor would devote the last two decades of his life to Myra Hindley's redemption.
Ian Brady letters: Inside the mind of the Moors Murderer
Through his friendship with Arthur Koestler, he was already interested in prison reform. Hindley exercised a unique fascination for a man like Astor. At her sentencing, the judge had set no limit to her life sentence. Hindley, who would never be released, was told she would not be eligible for parole until she had spent 25 years inside, a tariff that was increased to 30 years in by the then home secretary, Leon Brittan.
With the passage of time, it became clear that she was not being treated like other lifers, and had become a "political" case. Like many prominent members of the establishment, Astor believed her treatment was unfair, unjust and a violation of her human rights.
From the best of intentions, he would test his admirers to the limit with his devotion to this cause. Astor's relationship with Hindley remains an unsettling sub-plot to the case, motivated by dreams of redemption and salvation. It was an attraction of opposites. Astor encountered Hindley across a chasm of class, inheritance and fortune. Blessed with luxury, comfort and privilege, he had been brought up at Cliveden in the shadow of his mother, Nancy Astor, a dominant, unconventional and pioneering woman.
For her part, Hindley's conviction at Chester in was simply the grim climax to a blighted life. Her role as Ian Brady's accomplice had transformed her into an object of supreme fascination, especially once it became clear that she was intelligent, and vulnerable to remorse and the idea of redemption through the renewal of her Roman Catholic faith. Hindley's capacity for enthralling her supporters remains a disturbing theme in her correspondence with Astor.
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The eminent QC Helena Kennedynow a scion of the progressive establishment, was a young defence lawyer when she represented Hindley in court.
She retains a vivid memory of the smartly dressed, dark-haired woman who could have been "an English literature teacher in a good secondary school. Hindley loved to read, and loved Middlemarch," Kennedy remembers. She always had a strong sense of the horror of what she had done. The other important figure was her "confessor", Peter Timms, a prison governor turned priest, who considers her prison treatment "a scar on the judicial system". If public opinion was partly to blame for this, Hindley's case was certainly not helped by Longford, who was prone to unfortunate public utterances.
'He was highly intelligent but barking mad. She was highly intelligent but very manipulative'
Hindley, said Longford, was "a delightful person", adding that "you could loathe what people did, but should not loathe what they were, because human personality was sacred, even though human behaviour was very often appalling".
Longford and Astor had known each other since Oxford. Their paths had often crossed in the beaten ways of liberal postwar Britain, and they shared an interest in prison reform. Astor was agnostic, verging on atheist, Longford a devout Roman Catholic. Both were fascinated by the idea of redemption. Here, in Myra Hindley, was apparently a perfect case study: Early in the s, dismayed by the adverse publicity Longford was getting, Astor stepped in.
He was an intensely shy, soft-spoken, man, but capable of decisive, occasionally ruthless, action. Now, according to his widow Bridget, "David said to Frank [Longford]: Frank was always interested in publicity in a way that David really wasn't. Hindley, replying to "Dear Mr Astor", seemed to open her heart. His public journalistic and his private, philanthropic impulses became hopelessly blurred.
After their first exchange, he wrote that, "Incidentally, you write very well. Have you begun writing your thoughts? I think you should, if only to exercise the gift you've got. But she's not ordinary: Unsurprisingly, he, who believed in the unconscious guilt of the community, began to evolve a theory about the extremes of public hatred towards Hindley.
As he put it in one letter: Towards the end ofthe past returned with a vengeance, as it periodically did throughout Hindley's long incarceration. She received "a heartbreaking letter" from Winnie Johnson, the mother of Keith Bennett, who wrote that "not knowing whether my son is alive or dead is literally a living hell I am on bended knee begging you to end this torture and finally put my mind at rest.
She consulted Astor about how to handle the press backlash. Astor, to encourage her, replied that, "The way you run your life under your circumstances is an extraordinary achievement A huge police operation saw both taken separately to the moors in an attempt to locate the bodies.
What Myra Hindley's letters say about her relationship with Lord Longford | UK news | The Guardian
Hindley remained in prison until her death inwhile Brady was in prison until his transfer under provisions of the Mental Health Act to Park Lane — now Ashworth — Special Hospital in He has been force fed for a number of years as he has been on a hunger strike in an attempt to force a return to prison.
Inhe appeared via a TV link at a mental health tribunal arguing that he was not mentally ill so should be returned to prison. He believes that he would not be force fed in prison and so would be allowed to end his life there. Ian Brady appearing via video link at a tribunal in The focus overwhelmingly has been on the motivations of the killers and the minutiae of the offences themselves. It is not just the brutality of the crimes that is behind the media fascination.
But the drip-drip of disappointment took its toll and in Hindley wrote to Brady to tell him it was all over. Longford's role was now no longer to secure inter-prison visits - it was to get her out of prison altogether. Hindley began to attend mass every week. Longford was convinced that the reversion to her childhood faith was genuine.
But in a letter to her mother, Hindley confessed that, while she had agreed to attend mass, she doubted she would "see the light" again. The press, informed by Longford of her renewed faith, pursued the story. He had just left Holloway after six years as the prison's priest.
He told the reporter Colin Lawson, "Lord Longford said to me when he had seen Myra on one occasion, 'Has she not changed a great deal? Hasn't her personality changed? Kahle had his doubts about her religious conviction, but none about the effect the coverage would have: The former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, William Palfery, said that "do-gooders" like Longford were living in cloud- cuckoo-land, and called for the return of hanging.
It was a pattern that was to repeat itself over the next three decades. Longford's wife, Elizabeth, was at first deeply opposed to his involvement with Hindley. I wanted him to keep his hands clean of these monsters. He shook off the tag only when a sub-editor on the Sun came up with a replacement: But Elizabeth Longford's opposition weakened over time.
In Decembershe finally agreed to accompany her husband to Holloway. She and Hindley became firm friends. I do understand the agony of a mother like yourself. It seems so terribly unnatural that a young and happy girl should leave this world before her own mother.
He forwarded the replies he received to her in prison. One, from William Whitelaw, dated January 29reads, "The joint parole board McCooey says Longford's actions were driven by a sense of injustice: When hanging was abolished, it was never intended that it would be replaced by the punishment of incarceration until death.