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Friday, November 21, 1997 Published at 13:40 GMT


Longford 'disgusted' that Hindley will die in jail
image: [ Myra HIndley and Ian Brady were convicted of the 'moors murders' in 1966 ]
Myra HIndley and Ian Brady were convicted of the 'moors murders' in 1966

Lord Longford has expressed his "total disgust" at the Home Secretary Jack Straw's decision to confirm that the Moors Murderer, Myra Hindley, will spend the rest of her life in prison.

The veteran penal reform campaigner accused Mr Straw of being swayed by public opinion, which Lord Longford said was being stirred up against Hindley by "wicked" tabloid newspapers.

His outburst followed Mr Straw's approval of a decision by his predecessor, Michael Howard, that Hindley must serve all of her life sentence and never be released.

But Hindley, who was jailed in 1966, still intends to challenge the ruling in the House of Lords next month.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "He has looked at papers on her life tariff, which was set by Michael Howard, and he has made a decision that he will not part from that." But Lord Longford said: "I am very sorry indeed that a high-minded man, a Christian socialist, like Jack Straw should have taken that decision." P> Lord Longford has met Hindley on many occasions and has campaigned for her release for many years. He believes she has paid for her crimes and that she is a reformed character. "She is now a good woman as many Catholic priests will attest," he said.

[ image: Hindley on her way to prison, 31 years ago]
Hindley on her way to prison, 31 years ago
Hindley has served 31 years since she was jailed with Ian Brady in 1966 for murdering Lesley-Ann Downey, 10, and Edward Evans, 17. Brady, who is in a maximum security hospital on Merseyside knows he will never be released.

Both later confessed also to killing Keith Bennett, 12, and Pauline Reade, 16, and burying their bodies on Saddleworth Moor, near Manchester.

The two were jailed for life and the judge recommended that they serve "a very long time".

In 1982 the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lane, said Hindley should serve a minimum of 25 years.

But in 1990 the Home Secretary, David Waddington, decided that for Myra Hindley "life should mean life" and she should die in prison.

This decision was endorsed four years later by the last Home Secretary, Michael Howard, and now it has been upheld by Jack Straw.

In recent years Myra Hindley, 54 and a Roman Catholic, has been campaigning hard for release.

[ image: Hindley is now in her 50s]
Hindley is now in her 50s
She has expressed deep sorrow and remorse for her crimes.

This year she won a judicial review of her tariff. She has argued that Michael Howard acted unlawfully and inhumanely and was swayed by political and public pressure when he rejected her appeal in 1994.

Relatives of the Moors victims have promised to attack her if she is ever released from prison. In September protesters threw ink and eggs over a portrait of Hindley, made with imprints from a child hands, as it went on show at London's Royal Academy.

Keith Bennett's mother Winnie Johnson is reported as saying: "The Government must listen to what the people are saying and never let her go."

Most people think that Hindley should spend the rest of her life in prison, according to a poll of listeners to BBC Radio 5Live.

The poll on Nicky Campbell's morning programme showed that 66% of listeners thought she should never be released, compared to 34% saying she should have some chance for freedom.

Lord Longford expresses his "total disgust" and "contempt" over Jack Straw's decision

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