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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 12:08 GMT
Clarke urged over Shipman jewels
Primrose Shipman
Primrose Shipman has asked GMP to return the jewellery
An MP has called on the Home Secretary to stop jewellery found in serial killer Harold Shipman's garage from being returned to his widow.

James Purnell, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, said Proceeds of Crime laws which stop criminals from keeping their profits should be invoked.

Shipman's widow, Primrose, has asked Greater Manchester Police to return about 70 items, worth about 10,000.

The force says it believes some items were stolen from Shipman's victims.

It wrote to more than 180 families of the Hyde GP's victims, asking if they could identify the jewellery - which includes wedding rings, necklaces and brooches.

Harold Shipman
Police believe Shipman stole some items from his victims

They must provide a receipt, photographic evidence or a detailed description of the item before 15 April in order to claim them.

Mr Purnell said his constituents "couldn't stand the idea" that jewellery which may have belonged to Shipman's victims could be given to his widow.

He said: "What people are saying here is, there's more than one wedding ring here - how can that possibly be hers?

"What I've done here is written to the Home Secretary and said there's this act we passed, the Proceeds of Crime Act, where someone is suspected of having got some assets illegally.

"It's up to them to prove that those assets belong to them rather than the police proving they don't belong to them.

"That's a principle we should apply in this particular case."

The official inquiry into the serial killer's crimes found he killed an estimated 250 people during his time as a doctor in Hyde, Greater Manchester and Pontefract and Todmorden, West Yorkshire, between 1971 and 1998.

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