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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Ian Brady seeks public hearing
Ian Brady in police car
Ian Brady on his way to his trial in 1966

The Moors murderer Ian Brady wants a public hearing to determine whether he should still be detained in a mental institution.

In a startling move, the killer is pressing for his case to be reviewed in open session, rather than behind closed doors.

Brady, who is now 64, is a patient at the high security Ashworth Hospital on Merseyside.

His lawyer, Alan Hazlehurst, has made the request for an open hearing to a mental health tribunal in Liverpool.


The tribunal will consider whether or not Ian Brady should be discharged

Alan Hazlehurst
Brady's lawyer

He told BBC News Online: "Ian Brady has a legal right to a tribunal, and has a right to a hearing in public.

"It would have to be open to the press, and he would have a right to attend and give evidence."

Hunger strike

Brady was jailed for life in 1966 for the murders of 12-year-old John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey, 10, and Edward Evans, 17. He later confessed to killing 16-year-old Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, who was only 12.

Ashworth Hospital
Brady has been a hospital patient since 1985
He was moved from prison to the high security hospital in 1985.

For the past three years, he has been on hunger strike, and the hospital authorities have been feeding him through a plastic tube.

Two years ago he went to the High Court to demand the right to die, but doctors were told they could continue to keep him alive against his wishes.

That hearing was held in private.

Now Brady is taking advantage of the provisions of the Mental Health Act.

Any patient detained in a mental hospital has the right, once a year, to ask for a hearing to determine whether he or she can be discharged.

If the patient does not make such a request, their case is automatically reviewed every three years.

Outcry

It is this legal safeguard, to ensure that mental patients are not overlooked, that Ian Brady has seized upon.

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
Partners in crime: Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
Mr Hazlehurst says it is his intention to call independent evidence from psychiatrists and psychologists who have examined his client.

"The tribunal will consider whether or not Ian Brady has a mental disorder, and whether he should be discharged or should remain in hospital," he said.

But the possibility of Brady ever being released appears extremely remote.

He was moved to the hospital because doctors believed he had a serious mental disorder. In any event, there would be a public outcry if there was the slightest possibility that he might be set free.

Brady has repeatedly told the BBC he has no desire to be released, and says that unlike his accomplice Myra Hindley, he will never seek parole.

Mother

He says his only wish is to be allowed to end his captivity by starving himself to death.

Lesley Ann Downey
Lesley Ann Downey was one of Brady's victims
Recently, Brady was taken under guard to a Manchester hospital to visit his mother, who is now in her 90s and seriously ill.

A mental health tribunal would be bound only to consider the question of whether he should be discharged from Ashworth.

He would have the right to give evidence in person.

Given the preparation needed for such a tribunal, it is unlikely it could be held before the beginning of next year.

Last week, his lawyer and two MPs had a meeting with the hospital authorities to discuss complaints by patients.

"Mr Brady and a substantial number of other patients have expressed concern about their treatment and their conditions," said Mr Hazlehurst.


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See also:

26 Sep 02 | England
28 Feb 00 | UK
28 Feb 00 | UK
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