Hilda Murrell/Unanswered questions

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Concept.png Hilda Murrell/Unanswered questions


The following questions are from Robert Green's book A Thorn in Their Side (John Blake Publishing, 8 August 2013 ISBN 9781782196747 ). They are reproduced here with the author's permission.

Editorial note

The page is presented as publicly editable because the original questions, whilst the subject of copyright in their original form, may be subject to revision - or even satisfactorily answered - over time and as more evidence/information is discovered. Any proposed changes should first be aired in the discussion page with any subsequent revisions clearly documented and referenced.

Outstanding questions

  • Gerard Morgan-Grenville’s evidence that Hilda, uncharacteristically agitated, ended a half-hour phone call with him shortly before she was abducted and killed with the words: "If they don’t get me first, I want the world to know that at least one old woman has seen through their lies." Were there not itemised phone records at the time that would have established when she phoned him?
  • Tam Dalyell has never wavered in his allegation that ‘British intelligence were involved.’ He was corroborated by Judith Cook’s separate source, and by a BBC TV journalist, Patrick Burns.
  • From my experience as a Naval Intelligence officer with a top security clearance, MI5 would have discovered I knew there were things to hide over the Falklands War that were potentially more serious than the torpedoing of the Belgrano.
  • Dalyell’s letter to Michael Heseltine on 19 March 1984 triggered ‘a tremendous flap in Downing Street’ two days before Hilda was abducted.
  • Immediately after Dalyell detonated his bombshell in Parliament early on 20 December 1984, there was a suspicious break-in at the flat of Lieutenant-Commander Peter Hurst, and subsequent problems with his phones.
  • Hilda had conferred with Don Arnott who, uniquely among anti-nuclear scientists, had discovered a serious flaw in the control rods of the US nuclear power plant design which had failed at Three Mile Island, but which Thatcher was determined to build. His concerns were later endorsed by Dr Edward Radford, chair of the TMI Scientific Advisory Board. At the time key leaders of the nuclear industry supporting Thatcher’s plans took a close interest in what Don knew; he was tipped off that he was under surveillance, and some documents went missing. Before he could testify at the Sizewell Inquiry, he nearly died of a suspicious heart attack. In June 1985 he found his motorbike had been sabotaged. His death from natural causes in 2000 had nothing to do with his heart.
  • Hilda had been in correspondence with Dr Ross Hesketh, a senior safety scientist in the CEGB, who had just been sacked for revealing that plutonium from British reactors was being secretly supplied to the Americans for nuclear weapons.
  • At that time Hilda and I were closely conferring about her anti-nuclear paper for Sizewell, and I had suggested sending it to a scientist working at the secret reactor research centre at Winfrith whom I had met.
  • Sizewell objectors were under surveillance, and at least four names on the list were in regular contact with Hilda.
  • Laurens Otter’s story, corroborated by Brian George. George Lowe’s evidence suggests Hilda had had time to drive to a callbox to phone Otter on her last drive home.
  • Though no one could prove any of Hilda’s papers were taken, her document satchel and current handbag were not found.
  • The suspicious deaths of Avraham Sasa and Philip Griffith, who had sensitive information about Hilda’s death.
  • Con Purser’s experience after insisting on making a further statement that Hilda tried to leave documents with her three days before she was abducted.
  • The strange, half-hearted arson attack on Fron Goch after Dalyell was challenged on TV that he might have been set up by MI5.
  • The slashing of my car tyre outside Don’s home, and the police and Forensic Science Service response.
  • The advice from an ex-IRA man about use of a victim’s car as a decoy in abductions in Ulster.
  • Jill Finch’s evidence of a Range Rover racing onto the by-pass to Atcham, and another report of a similar vehicle emerging rapidly from Ravenscroft, around the time Hilda was abducted.
  • The last-minute withdrawal of Andrew Fox’s 1989 CTV documentary.
  • Why was the explosive evidence of male DNA under Hilda’s fingernails and semen on her cardigan, neither of which could have been from Andrew George or his family, ignored by both prosecution and defence? The fingernail DNA established Hilda had fought with another man.
  • The possibility that the semen was smeared onto Hilda’s slip by someone other than Andrew George.
  • Mr A’s information that Andrew George had said other people were involved, and a woman had encouraged him to burgle Hilda’s house, telling him that her ‘friends’ in a white van would clear up afterwards.
  • Andrew George could not have driven her car, so who was the well-built 25 to 40-year-old man who did?
  • When police knew Hilda owned the crashed car in Hunkington by sunset on the Wednesday, why did they not immediately visit her house and phone the Symondsons?
  • Why did the police ignore the mass of evidence, provided within weeks of Hilda’s murder, from reliable witnesses of changes in the appearance of Ravenscroft, and suspicious people and vehicles around it and her crashed car at Hunkington throughout the week Hilda was missing?
  • The evidence from a reliable witness – who knew Hilda and had nearly collided with an unlit car reversing out of Ravenscroft late on the Wednesday night – about what she had overheard from a group of men in an Uckington pub after the inquest.
  • The lack of blood or fingerprints on and in Hilda’s car; its suspiciously clean bodywork; her car keys in her coat pocket; and the utter implausibility of her reaching the spot in Moat Copse, where her body was found, unaided without being seen – all these things point to the probability that she was stabbed later somewhere else, and was carried into the copse by more than one man.
  • The police surgeon’s concern about the lack of blood from Hilda’s wounds, possibly indicating that they were inflicted after death.
  • Circumstantial evidence that some cuts in her coat and skirt were made after she was stabbed, and that she might not even have been wearing them.
  • My suspicion that several items of Hilda’s clothing plus boots, broken spectacles and kitchen knife, were planted to create a false trail from her crashed car to her body.
  • The police confusion over footprints in Ravenscroft, whereby their initial search for a suspect with distinctive size 8-9 Romanian Gola trainers shifted to interest in Doc Martens because Andrew George wore them – and the suspicious loss of casts of the trainer print. No size 6 footprints were found in the house.
  • Police photographs of her body in situ, corroborating Ian Scott’s certainty she was not in his copse when he had checked every tree over 24 hours after the police assumed she was left to die there, demolish their theory of a burglary gone wrong – so this was a much more complicated crime. Where was she until her body was found nearly two days later?
  • Hilda’s broken hyoid bone suggests she could have been strangled, not just placed in an arm-lock – by a teenage boy five inches shorter than her?
  • Who were the mysterious police ‘swarming’ on Marsh’s farm on the Friday, ‘on a murder hunt’? Did they know there would be no farmworkers there that day?
  • What were two detectives doing visiting a Shrewsbury sex counsellor on the Friday asking if he knew of any man with sexual problems and a preference for violence to old ladies and interfering with their clothing?
  • Who was the man seen conferring with PC Paul Davies before he became the first police officer to visit Ravenscroft on the Friday evening?
  • Why did Acland not test for drugs, and the Forensic Science Service subsequently ‘lose’ the body sheet and crucial body parts associated with toxicology tests, including her brain, liver, stomach contents, bile and urine?
  • Police pressure on telephone engineer Christopher Mileham to change his assessment of Hilda’s phone that it had not been ripped out – and on Shropshire councilor Derek Woodvine for leaking this information. Why did the relevant job card disappear?
  • Why did police photographs show a redundant extension cable pulled away from its retaining staples? Mileham is adamant this was not the case when he examined the phone,and Brian George agreed it was like that when he saw it before the Scene of Crime unit arrived. So why were neither of them called as a defence witness in Andrew George’s trial?
  • Why did neither ACC Smith nor former DCC Stalker interview Mileham?
  • The repeated intimidation of anti-nuclear campaigners Ian and Thalia Campbell, and what they told us they knew about the case.
  • The harassment of Judith Cook, the appalling attack on her supporter Lady Dora Russell and subsequent sinister postcard to her, and the mysterious break-in at Cecil Woolf, publishers of Death of a Rose-Grower.
  • The highly unusual decision by West Mercia Police to get another police force to review their handling of the case, and the subsequent suppression of the Northumbria Report.
  • Rosalind Taylerson’s experience as a key witness of the driver of Hilda’s car. Why were the police so determined to frame David McKenzie?
  • Trina Guthrie’s affidavit in Gary Murray’s book Enemies of the State.
  • Break-ins to my father’s house and then our Christchurch home in which nothing was taken; endless interruptions to our phone; interference with our mail; and the attempted break-in to our room in an English inn where we were the only occupants.
  • The death threats to me via Patsy and Gordon Dale.
  • The repeated slitting open of a letter to Kate from New Zealand after I and Dalyell declared George’s conviction was unsafe.
  • What George’s ex-partner told us, and George told me.
  • The claims that RAF Shawbury was used as a transit point for international agents around the time of the murder, and that Hilda was held at Sundorne Territorial Army Centre which was closed for the week.
  • The probability that Hilda had worked for Bletchley Park.
  • Was Hilda abducted for questioning about sensitive information about the armament of the Belgrano which she was suspected of going public about?
  • Despite this book’s initial publication in late 2011, why are we still being harassed and our mail intercepted, even when it is posted to a ‘safe’ address and the sender is a British Member of Parliament?