'He was highly intelligent but barking mad. She was highly intelligent but very manipulative'
Moors Murderers: Myra Hindley accused Brady of drugging and raping her She refers to life in her twisted relationship as being in "Brady's prison". . deal with the problem and put this pair away somewhere out of sight and. read by an actress, telling the story of her meeting with Ian Brady and their relationship. "It would have solved so many problems. Hindley and Brady, the "Moors murderers", killed five children and buried their bodies on. Hindley refers to life in her twisted relationship as being in “Brady's . and Brady, who died of lung disease in , took the knowledge of his.
First victim Pauline Reade, 16, disappeared on her way to a dance on July 12, In the letter to lawyers, Hindley she claims that Brady coerced her into the murder by threatening her if she backed out. Hindley claimed Brady coerced into committing the murders by threatening to kill her Image: I had no self-esteem or self-respect, whereas before I met him, and for the year I worked with him before he first made a date with me, I was an attractive, confident and sociable teenager, never short of dates.
He also asked her to buy books by the Marquis de Sade, a writer famed for his libertine sexuality. Bradley also threatened to throw Hindley's grandmother down the stairs according to these new documents Image: I didn't know if it was loaded or not, but it petrified me, until one day I said 'Shoot me and put me out of my misery'. It coincided with a High Court appeal against a ruling that his accomplice should never be released. Hindley said Brady used to regularly strangle her and claimed he was 'practising' killing on her Image: Brady was also convicted of the murder of John Kilbride with Hindley found guilty of acting as an accessory.
Hindley and Brady murdered five children, aged between 10 and 17, in the Greater Manchester area between July and October Image: At least four of the children were sexually assaulted. Two of the victims were discovered in graves dug on Saddleworth Moor - and a third grave was discovered there in The body of fourth victim, Keith Bennett, is also thought to be buried there but remains undiscovered.
In her autobiographical notes, Hindley writes: David Astor, who was editor of the Observer inwas sympathetic to everything represented by Hindley's fate. As a young man, he'd had analysis with Anna Freud and remained in search of existential meaning. Astor wanted the Observer to be the paper of psychological understanding. Under his editorship, the newspaper quested for "sense and reason" in a world ruled by insanity, and he was always attracted to apparently insoluble cases.
He had campaigned for years to secure the release of Nelson Mandela; the reports he commissioned from Anthony Sampson from the Rivonia trial are credited by many in the ANC as saving Mandela from the gallows.
The Hindley case braided together all his deepest interests. But it was strangely prophetic. On and off, Astor would devote the last two decades of his life to Myra Hindley's redemption. Through his friendship with Arthur Koestler, he was already interested in prison reform.
Myra Hindley and Ian Brady: How obsession turned to Hate
Hindley exercised a unique fascination for a man like Astor. At her sentencing, the judge had set no limit to her life sentence. Hindley, who would never be released, was told she would not be eligible for parole until she had spent 25 years inside, a tariff that was increased to 30 years in by the then home secretary, Leon Brittan.
With the passage of time, it became clear that she was not being treated like other lifers, and had become a "political" case. Like many prominent members of the establishment, Astor believed her treatment was unfair, unjust and a violation of her human rights.
From the best of intentions, he would test his admirers to the limit with his devotion to this cause. Astor's relationship with Hindley remains an unsettling sub-plot to the case, motivated by dreams of redemption and salvation. It was an attraction of opposites. Astor encountered Hindley across a chasm of class, inheritance and fortune.
Blessed with luxury, comfort and privilege, he had been brought up at Cliveden in the shadow of his mother, Nancy Astor, a dominant, unconventional and pioneering woman. For her part, Hindley's conviction at Chester in was simply the grim climax to a blighted life. Her role as Ian Brady's accomplice had transformed her into an object of supreme fascination, especially once it became clear that she was intelligent, and vulnerable to remorse and the idea of redemption through the renewal of her Roman Catholic faith.
Hindley's capacity for enthralling her supporters remains a disturbing theme in her correspondence with Astor. The eminent QC Helena Kennedynow a scion of the progressive establishment, was a young defence lawyer when she represented Hindley in court.
She retains a vivid memory of the smartly dressed, dark-haired woman who could have been "an English literature teacher in a good secondary school. Hindley loved to read, and loved Middlemarch," Kennedy remembers. She always had a strong sense of the horror of what she had done. The other important figure was her "confessor", Peter Timms, a prison governor turned priest, who considers her prison treatment "a scar on the judicial system".
If public opinion was partly to blame for this, Hindley's case was certainly not helped by Longford, who was prone to unfortunate public utterances. Hindley, said Longford, was "a delightful person", adding that "you could loathe what people did, but should not loathe what they were, because human personality was sacred, even though human behaviour was very often appalling".
Longford and Astor had known each other since Oxford. Their paths had often crossed in the beaten ways of liberal postwar Britain, and they shared an interest in prison reform.
Astor was agnostic, verging on atheist, Longford a devout Roman Catholic. Both were fascinated by the idea of redemption. Here, in Myra Hindley, was apparently a perfect case study: Early in the s, dismayed by the adverse publicity Longford was getting, Astor stepped in. He was an intensely shy, soft-spoken, man, but capable of decisive, occasionally ruthless, action. Now, according to his widow Bridget, "David said to Frank [Longford]: Frank was always interested in publicity in a way that David really wasn't.
Hindley, replying to "Dear Mr Astor", seemed to open her heart.
His public journalistic and his private, philanthropic impulses became hopelessly blurred. After their first exchange, he wrote that, "Incidentally, you write very well.
Have you begun writing your thoughts? I think you should, if only to exercise the gift you've got. But she's not ordinary: Unsurprisingly, he, who believed in the unconscious guilt of the community, began to evolve a theory about the extremes of public hatred towards Hindley. As he put it in one letter: Towards the end ofthe past returned with a vengeance, as it periodically did throughout Hindley's long incarceration. She received "a heartbreaking letter" from Winnie Johnson, the mother of Keith Bennett, who wrote that "not knowing whether my son is alive or dead is literally a living hell I am on bended knee begging you to end this torture and finally put my mind at rest.
She consulted Astor about how to handle the press backlash. Astor, to encourage her, replied that, "The way you run your life under your circumstances is an extraordinary achievement I won't say spiritual, because I don't know what that means. Inaddressing the complexities of this project, Astor wrote, "This book should be the story of your personal pilgrimage or odyssey. In the course of writing your own testament, you should incidentally answer all the questions in the public's mind, but only incidentally, not as your main theme.
That theme I feel should be your innocence, your fall and your redemption…" Various literary advisers, including Elizabeth Longford and a reluctant Diana Athill, were mobilised to help shape the manuscript. Hindley responded by submitting hundreds of pages of childhood memories — almost a million words — but never confronting the unbearable reality of the killings.
In some frustration, Astor wrote to Timms that it was "impossible for [Hindley] to write about the serious troubles in her life, beginning with her meeting with Brady.
Ian Brady: Myra Hindley was as ruthless as I was - and it was she who drew first blood
Her long account of the minutiae of a Lancashire girls's everyday life makes very wearisome reading. If it was offered as a book, it would be a disaster. Often Astor's promotion of Hindley's rehabilitation was fiercely rebuffed behind the scenes.
When he tried to place the sale of Hindley's life story with literary agent Michael Sissons, his five-page proposal was returned with Sissons's obvious repugnance. Arnold Goodman, a political advisor and establishment fixer of the s, wrote to Astor that the Hindley campaign was "one of the rare instances where I do not feel totally enthusiastic about one of your causes".
The relationship with Hindley took on a ritualistic quality, through the cycle of Astor's prison visits. I feel we are weaving such a close web of friendship with you that our visits have gradually taken on a family atmosphere. I hope you feel the same.
'He was highly intelligent but barking mad. She was highly intelligent but very manipulative'
Hindley also met Astor's wife, Bridget. Mrs Astor has vivid memories of Hindley's life as a long-term prisoner. She was very impressive. She also had a very good sense of humour.
There was nothing creepy about Myra. She was very matter-of-fact. She knew her crimes were terrible and she didn't pretend otherwise. She remained, however, a powerful and highly intelligent character who could bend the prison's organisation to her will. She came to learn that her every move was tabloid fodder. Fleet Street was a jungle in which "the story", true or false, a cocktail of blind quotes and unsourced gossip, was everything.
Innocuous-seeming correspondence invariably turned out to have been arranged by the Daily Mirror or the Sun. In her cell, Hindley developed a routine of studied normality, circumscribed by her limited interaction with the other inmates, meetings with famous visitors, establishment liberals such as Merlyn Rees, Ludovic Kennedy and Cardinal Hume, and occasional visits from her family.
She listened to Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, Kaleidoscoperead improving books and did the crossword.
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It was, she wrote, "a strange kind of paralysis". Hindley also found consolation in a succession of prison relationships. Bridget Astor insists that Hindley was "not a lesbian", and Helena Kennedy agrees.