Ian Brady's ashes will not be scattered on Saddleworth Moor, lawyer confirms

Murderer’s solicitor assures coroner that 79-year-old’s remains will not end up on moors where he and Myra Hindley buried victims

Ian Brady’s ashes will not be scattered on Saddleworth Moor, where he buried four of his child victims, his lawyer has said, after a coroner sought reassurances that the killer’s body would be disposed of in a “right and proper” manner.

At a hastily convened second hearing of the inquest into the 79-year-old murderer’s death, coroner’s officer Alby Howard-Murphy said he had spoken to Robin Makin, Brady’s solicitor, who said there was “no likelihood” that the ashes would be disposed of on the moor.

Brady and his girlfriend Myra Hindley tortured and murdered five children between 1963 and 1965. He died of heart failure at Ashworth secure hospital in Merseyside on Monday night without revealing the whereabouts of the remains of Keith Bennett, a 12-year-old boy from Longsight in Manchester.

At the hearing on Wednesday afternoon, it was decided that Brady’s body would be released to Makin, the executor of his will, at 2pm on Thursday. The inquest was told the body would be guarded by police until then.

Speaking at the first hearing on Tuesday, Christopher Sumner, senior coroner for Sefton in Merseyside, said he would not release Brady’s body until certain conditions were met. “I would like an assurance before I do so that first of all the person who asked to take over responsibility for that funeral has a funeral director willing to deal with the funeral and that he has a crematorium willing and able to cremate Mr Stewart-Brady’s [Brady’s full name] body,” said Sumner.

Police in 1986 use specially trained sniffer dogs on Saddleworth Moor, near Oldham, to search for the body of Keith Bennett.
Police in 1986 use specially trained sniffer dogs on Saddleworth Moor, near Oldham, to search for the body of Keith Bennett. Photograph: PA

“I also wanted to have assurance that when Mr Stewart-Brady is cremated, his ashes will not be scattered on Saddleworth Moor. I think that’s a right and proper moral judgment to make. I think it would be offensive if Mr Stewart-Brady’s ashes were scattered on Saddleworth Moor.”

Howard-Murphy said on Wednesday that he had spoken to Makin, who was unhappy with the comments made in the first hearing about the disposal of Brady’s ashes. Makin said the suggestion that there was a plan to scatter them on Saddleworth Moor was untrue.

Howard-Murphy said Makin had told him Brady’s will would remain private unless it was submitted to probate.

Michael Armstrong, counsel for Merseyside police, asked for the release of Brady’s body to be delayed in order to guarantee its safety. Sumner agreed to delay the release for almost 24 hours to allow the police time to make arrangements with Makin.

Despite Makin’s request that the inquest be concluded on Wednesday, as a postmortem showed that Brady died of natural causes, Sumner insisted he would deal with the inquest in a “full, frank and fearless manner”.

“There are some people in England who will wonder why Mr Brady, and now that he has died, should have any human rights when he denied human rights to people himself, but we abide and live by the rule of the law,” he said, concluding that a full inquest would be held on 29 June.

Speaking anonymously on Wednesday afternoon, funeral directors in the Sefton area said they had not been approached to deal with Brady’s body, but that they would be reluctant to do so for fear of the effects it would have on their business.

Paul Allcock, spokesman for the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, said undertakers have the right, as private businesses, to refuse to deal with a body. Local authorities often have contracts with specific funeral directors to organise burials when there is no family, he said, but each contract was different.

“To be honest, I would think there would always be somebody who would be prepared to take [a body],” he said. “I’ve never known anyone to not have a funeral by virtue of the fact the a funeral director has refused to carry out a funeral. Somewhere along the line, there would be somebody who was prepared to do it.”

Myra Hindley on Saddleworth Moor
An image released by Greater Manchester police shows Myra Hindley on Saddleworth Moor, in a picture taken by Brady before the pair were arrested. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

“My feeling would be that everybody deserves a decent burial, just because they are human,” he said. “Regardless of what our personal views are of any individual … In our role, really, you shouldn’t treat anybody any different to anybody else. Our whole ethos is that we care for the deceased and the bereaved and we treat anybody, be they lord and lady or someone off the street corner who has nobody, in the same manner.”

After Myra Hindley’s death in 2002, authorities arranged for a firm “somewhere in the north” to make arrangements for the burial, after 20 funeral directors near Bury St Edmunds, where she died, refused.

Speaking to the Guardian at the time, Nick Armstrong, from an independent family firm in Halesworth, Suffolk, admitted he had been contacted by the prison services about providing funeral services for Hindley a year before her death, but, like other firms, had said no.

“We declined as soon as we were approached, last year. Basically we didn’t feel comfortable doing that. We knew that public emotions would be running quite high on this so we felt it was in our best interest to say no. It puts us in quite an awkward position, to be honest, because we are here to help people at the time they need us the most.”

He added: “I’m not here to judge anybody. She’ll be judged by someone greater than me. But everyone who has asked me this, I have put the question to them: how would they feel if it was their mother or their grandfather in the same chapel of rest or in the same hearse as Myra Hindley?”

• This article was amended on 18 May 2017. Brady’s solicitor was reported as Robert Makin, this has been corrected to Robin Makin.


Frances Perraudin North of England reporter

The GuardianTramp

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