This page releases, for the first time, sensitive source documents relating to the murder of Hilda Murrell in 1984. These include the suppressed 1985 Northumbria Police Review of the handling of the case by the West Mercia Police, and the inquest statements and correspondence about her missing body parts.
It also includes source documents relating to ‘Other Related Victims’ described in the book A Thorn in Their Side: The Murder of Hilda Murrell.
NOTE: Many of the files linked to from this page are scanned from the original documents. They are often quite large (several megabytes) so will take longer to display. They are in pdf format so will often open in a separate window in your web browser.
Suppressed 1985 Police Review of the Investigation of the Hilda Murrell Case
Northumbria Report (pdf 20.3 MB)
Following heavy criticism of their investigation into Hilda’s murder, in March 1985 the West Mercia Police brought in two senior detectives from the Northumbria Police to review their handling of it. In June 1985 at a disastrous media conference, the police announced that, although the review had found little fault, it had been decided not to make public what became known as the Northumbria Report. However, they had earlier said it would be made public. Over ten years later, Robert Green received a photocopy of the report from an anonymous source who had access to this and other police files. He has included a critique in his book A Thorn in Their Side: The Hilda Murrell Murder.
Inquest and Autopsy Reports for Hilda Murrell
Following the delayed inquest into Hilda Murrell’s murder (held on 4 December 1984), the Coroner refused to release a copy of Dr Peter Acland’s autopsy report to Robert Green as next of kin. Dr Acland wrote a letter to the Times on 10 January 1985 offering to review his report with another pathologist chosen by the family. Professor Bernard Knight was asked and he submitted his findings on 28 March 1985. Dr Acland and Detective Chief Superintendent Cole read the only statements allowed at the Inquest.
Hilda Murrell’s Missing Body Parts
In 2004, the West Mercia Police Detective Superintendent leading the investigation told Robert Green that some of Hilda’s body parts, retained by Dr Acland during the autopsy, could not be found. Following the conviction of Andrew George in 2005, Robert Green wrote to the Forensic Science Service in order to recover these. The ensuing correspondence confirms that after exhaustive searches, key body parts, possibly linked with toxicology tests, are missing.
A Thorn in Their Side: The Hilda Murrell Murder has a chapter devoted to other anti-nuclear campaigners who were killed or intimidated because they spoke out about contentious nuclear issues. Some were killed because they were trying to get information to Hilda Murrell’s nephew Robert Green about her murder.
Robert Green himself experienced intimidation including tyre slashing (pdf), house break ins (pdf), phone interference and mail interception over the 27 years that he has pursued the truth about his aunt’s murder. This has happened in both the United Kingdom since 1984, and in New Zealand since 1993.
Patsy Dale (Davis). While married to a crew member of Britain’s first Polaris nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine HMS Resolution, after four miscarriages and a prematurely stillborn daughter Roseanne, Patsy gave birth in 1973 to her second son Stephen Davis, who had a hare lip and cleft palate and frontal brain lobe damage. Her first son had been born with no defects. She discovered that several other children of nuclear submarine crew members had similar birth defects, and there was a high incidence of miscarriages. In 1985, despite telephone threats, she was interviewed about her findings on a Yorkshire TV documentary Inside Britain’s Bomb. For the next 25 years she experienced countless assaults, including rape, and death threats (pdf) in the UK and later Ireland from assailants who knew when she was alone, and were never apprehended by police.
In 1990, Patsy contacted Hilda Murrell’s nephew Robert Green because in 1987 her attacker left behind a photocopy of two pages from the first book about Hilda Murrell’s murder with the word DEATH written across it. Using his Navy connections, Green discovered that the nuclear submariners had been exposed to radiation as sentries for welders in the reactor compartment during refits. He helped find a lawyer to try to get Ministry of Defence compensation for the deformed children, but the attempt failed for lack of evidence because other families were intimidated into silence. There was significant coverage of her case by both the Irish (pdf) and British media (pdf) .
Patsy’s second husband Gordon Dale wrote to MI5 demanding that their agents be hauled off; and in 2006 Robert Green met ex-MI5 Director General Dame Stella Rimington in Christchurch, New Zealand, gave her a dossier on Patsy and asked her to help, without success. A group of New Zealand and British women set up support groups writing letters (pdf) to Irish and other politicians, police, MI5 (pdf) and Amnesty International in support of the Dales. Former MI5 agent Gary Murray published Patsy Dale’s Affidavit in his 1993 book Enemies of the State which also included Trina Guthrie’s Affidavit detailing what a prison inmate told her he had heard about 3 men and a woman who had been involved in Hilda’s abduction and murder.
Dr Rosalie Bertell. An American Catholic nun and researcher for the National Cancer Institute, in 1977 she discovered that low radiation levels caused leukaemia and other health problems, with serious implications for the nuclear industry. When she spoke out about this, she experienced severe harassment (pdf), including attempted murder. Her papers (pdf) detailing her experiences are now in the National Archives of Canada. Rosalie died in 2012.
Dr Patricia Sheehan, an Irish scientist, discovered in the 1980s that mothers of a cluster of children in Dundalk (pdf) born with Down’s syndrome had been at a boarding school when a 1957 fire in Windscale in Cumbria, northwest England, released radioactive fallout which was blown across the Irish Sea. In 1994, Dr Sheehan was about to present her findings at an Irish inquiry into birth defects at Sellafield when, following death threats, she was found dead in her car, and her papers were missing. The crash was never fully investigated.
Philip Griffith. An adopted son of Eileen Griffith who knew Hilda Murrell and lived near her weekend cottage, Philip phoned Eileen from Brighton soon after the first anniversary of Hilda’s murder to report he had overheard some men in a pub bragging about how they had killed Hilda, and that the police knew. He was followed to a callbox, and found by a work colleague early next morning in a park dying of a drug overdose. It took two weeks for the Brighton police to inform Eileen; and when she identified Philip’s body he had a severe wound on his forehead like he had been hit with a hammer. The police dismissed his death as drug-related, amid suspicions of a cover-up. When his sister persisted with her own inquiries, her home was staked out by two strange men in a car until challenged by a male friend. His family sought legal advice (pdf) and challenged the police handling of the case and gave Robert Green permission to use these documents.
Willie MacRae. A leading radical Scottish National Party lawyer and anti-nuclear campaigner, in 1985 he was found dying at the wheel of his car after driving off a main road in the Western Highlands with two bullet wounds in his head, his smashed wristwatch and papers twenty yards from the car, and a gun further away in a stream. Cause of death was officially recorded as suicide, and no inquest was held. On a recent investigative TV programme, a friend insisted MacRae was not suicidal; but he was under surveillance by Special Branch – which was confirmed by an ex-policeman in 2010. He was preparing to give evidence at an inquiry into the nuclear industry in Scotland. There are many parallels (pdf) between his death and that of Hilda Murrell, whose murder investigation he had publicly criticised.