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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Killer wins right to book appeal
Serial killer Dennis Nilsen in 1983
Former policeman Nilsen butchered at least 15 young men
Serial killer Dennis Nilsen has won permission to appeal against a ruling which denied him the right to continue working on his autobiography in jail.

Nilsen, 57, is in the 21st year of a life sentence at Full Sutton Prison, near York, for murdering 15 young men.

The High Court ruled in December that the confiscation of the manuscript of his life story by the home secretary and the prison governor was justified.

But his lawyers argue it breached his right to freedom of expression.

The book, entitled Nilsen: History of a Drowning Man, was seized by prison staff in 2001.

"Compelling reasons"

The authorities refused to return it unless they could make sure it contained nothing objectionable under a Prison Service law on prisoner communications.

Delivering the High Court ruling in December, Mr Justice Maurice Kay said Home Secretary David Blunkett was "entitled to have regard to the likely effect of publication on members of the public, including survivors and the families of victims of Nilsen's serial offences".

Full Sutton jail
Nilsen is serving a life sentence at Full Sutton Prison near York
But a panel of three Appeal Court judges, headed by Lord Justice Brooke, has ruled there are "compelling reasons" why the court should hear the appeal.

Former policeman Nilsen admitted killing and butchering 15 men, most of them homeless homosexuals, at his north London home.

It is thought he may have killed more.

He received six mandatory life sentences in 1983, with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 25 years. He was later made the subject of a "whole life" tariff.

After meeting his victims in pubs and bars, Nilsen lured them to his home where he killed them and then carried out bizarre rituals on their bodies.

Severed heads

He was caught after flushing some body parts down the toilet and later showed policemen two severed heads he had not yet disposed of.

Nilsen's book - copies of which are said to be in the hands of several friends and a Sunday newspaper - is the latest in a number of controversial books written by prisoners.

In February 2002 the outcry caused by moors murderer Ian Brady's book, The Gates of Janus, sparked a review of the law governing the rights of criminals to write books.

Members of Brady's victims' families were among those outraged by the book, which is supposed to give an insight into the mind of a serial killer, and for which he gained an estimated 12,000 to 15,000.

Killer loses in manuscript battle
30 Jan 04  |  England
US publisher defends Brady book
18 Oct 01  |  UK News

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