Manchester

Myra Hindley prison papers reveal 'very complicated woman'

Myra Hindley
Image caption Hindley was convicted of two murders in 1966 and sentenced to life

Documents about Moors Murderer Myra Hindley show her as "very resilient and forthright", an academic has said.

Dr Tom Clark, who has studied the prison papers for three years, said they reveal a "very complicated woman".

Hindley and Ian Brady murdered five children between 1963 and 1965 in Greater Manchester.

The University of Sheffield lecturer said he had found that "her public persona as the icon of evil is quite different to her private one".

Hindley died in 2002 at the age of 60, while still serving a life sentence.

Brady was also sentenced to life and has been in Ashworth Hospital, near Liverpool since 1985.

'Quite tedious'

Documents pertaining to Hindley's life in prison, including personal letters, official reports and medical details, were released in 2008.

Dr Clark said his long studying of them had shown her not to be as he expected.

"You're expecting something evil, almost as if you are touching evil, but what you find is someone who is very well caught up in the prison administrative system and is actually quite tedious," he said.

"She uses the system to achieve all sorts of things, whether it's being able to make her own cups of tea or asking the home secretary about her tariff date."

"She becomes quite good at doing that [and is] an effective prisoner in those terms."

Dr Clark said the papers showed that Hindley "always had ideas of moving beyond her station".

"She was certainly a woman who always wanted to climb the social ladder," he said.

He added that she had been a "very complicated woman" who, "by 1995, [was] genuinely seen as someone who is useful around the prison and quite pleasant".

"Some prisoners looked up to her and some prison officers saw her as a model prisoner and a good presence on the wing, because she had a calming influence."

'Resilient and forthright'

However, he said the papers showed that Hindley did not "do anything that she didn't want to do".

"She is very resilient and very forthright in her own mind [and] I have no doubt that she knew what she was getting involved in."

Hindley and Brady were convicted of the murders of Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans in 1966.

Brady was also convicted of the murder of John Kilbride, with Hindley being found guilty of acting as an accessory.

In 1987, Brady and Hindley confessed to two further murders - those of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, whose remains have never been found.

The papers about Hindley's time in prison are held at the the National Archives at Kew.

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