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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Shipman 'tried to protect diary'
Harold Shipman
Harold Shipman was jailed for life in 2000 at Preston Crown Court
Killer GP Harold Shipman took legal action to protect his letters and prison diary to try to stop them being sold to the press, an inquest heard.

A lawyer for the Shipman family said Shipman had acted in an effort to stop prisoners swiping his private letters.

An ongoing inquest in Leeds heard he had been "distressed" by stories seemingly based on things he had written to his wife.

Shipman was found hanged in his cell at Wakefield Prison in January 2004.

'Diary of despair'

Lawyer Jim Sturman told Leeds Crown Court the newspapers were "desperate" for information on one of Britain's most notorious prisoners.

He said Shipman had begun "copyrighting" his letters after a number were stolen by fellow inmates at the prison and had also "copyrighted" his "diary of despair".

Shipman had done this so that anyone attempting to sell them could be prosecuted for breach of copyright and handling stolen goods, the lawyer claimed.

Mr Sturman revealed the former GP's plan as he questioned prison officer Delwyn Marshall on the fifth day of the inquest into his death.

Shipman was jailed for life in June 2000 at Preston Crown Court after he was found guilty of murdering 15 of his patients. A public inquiry later concluded he had probably killed 250 patients.

Drop in status

Shipman had told fellow inmates in the days before his death that Mr Marshall had been "bullying" him and had celebrated after his privileges were cut.

But the prison officer said that the decision to drop his status from standard to basic was justified after Shipman had flatly refused to take part in offending behaviour courses in which inmates were encouraged to discuss their crimes and admit their guilt.

When asked by Mr Sturman if he had made a deliberate decision to "crack" Shipman and get him "to open up", he replied: "No, sir."

Mr Sturman has argued throughout the hearing that the decision to cut Shipman's privileges had a dramatic effect on him and could have pushed him towards taking his own life.

'Self-harm watch'

Raymond Rowett, the former head of operations at Wakefield, revealed that Shipman had been on a "self-harm" watch during his time at Strangeways, Manchester and later during his time at Frankland Prison.

But by September 2002 he had been taken off it.

He said Shipman had probably taken the strips of cloth which were later used to form a ligature during a textile workshop where he sewed boxer shorts.

Despite causing few problems on the wing, Shipman had his status reduced for "non-compliance", while his impromptu surgeries could have also contributed to his downgrading, said Mr Rowett who is now retired.




SEE ALSO:
Officer 'tried to revive Shipman'
14 Apr 05 |  Manchester
Shipman 'tricked' prison officers
13 Apr 05 |  Manchester
Shipman told to 'go hang himself'
12 Apr 05 |  Manchester
Shipman 'never spoke of suicide'
11 Apr 05 |  Manchester



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