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Page last updated at 07:17 GMT, Monday, 19 July 2010 08:17 UK
Shipman letters reveal killer 'thought he was a god'
Letter by Shipman
Harold Shipman wrote letters while in prison

Letters written in jail by Harold Shipman reveal that the former GP and convicted killer thought he was "some sort of medical god".

The family doctor, from Hyde, became Britain's most prolific serial killer when it was revealed that he had killed at least 215 of his patients.

Ten years on, letters by Shipman have been analysed by a psychologist to reveal his state of mind.

Dr Shipman committed suicide in Wakefield prison in 2004.


The letters - never seen before in public - are featured in a programme by BBC Inside Out North West called 'Shipman - when Doctors Kill.'

Harold Shipman
No-one saw me do anything. As for stealing morphine off the terminally ill again no-one saw me do it.
From a letter by Harold Shipman

In one letter, he writes: "No-one saw me do anything. As for stealing morphine off the terminally ill, again no-one saw me do it."

In another he says: "The police complain I'm boring. No mistresses, home abroad, money in Swiss banks, I'm normal. If that is boring I am."

Psychologist Dr David Holmes, who analysed the letters for the programme, said they showed that Shipman relished the attention.

"He saw no one as being superior to him," he said.

"In his own mind, in his own eyes, he was some sort of medical god."

In 2009, another collection of prison letters written by Shipman were withdrawn from sale following complaints.

The 65 letters, written to two friends after his arrest in 1998, sparked a storm of protest by some of the families of the Greater Manchester GP's many victims.


For more than 20 years, Shipman used the drug Diamorphine to kill patients both in their homes and at his surgery.

He was jailed for life in January 2000 and committed suicide in prison in 2004.

The Shipman Inquiry, which concluded in 2005, recommended the wholesale reform of death certification that would make it less open to abuse and less dependent on the honesty of a single doctor.

It also made other recommendations regarding the safeguarding of controlled drugs, checks on cremations and the revalidation of doctors, many of which are yet to be fully implemented.

In her first TV interview since the inquiry, chairman Dame Janet Smith said that not enough has been done to stop doctors from killing patients and getting away with it.

She also told the programme that she still found Shipman's actions profoundly shocking.

"I think the nearest I can get to explaining what motivated him was that I think that he felt he knew best when it was time for somebody to die," she said.

"I suppose in a way it made him compare himself to God."

'Shipman - When Doctors Kill' is an Inside Out North West special investigation on BBC One, Monday July 19 at 7.30pm.

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19 Jul 10 |  Manchester
Shipman's letters show no remorse
30 Sep 09 |  Manchester




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