John Stalker, who investigated Moors murders, dies aged 79

Ex-Greater Manchester police deputy chief constable led inquiry into shooting of suspected IRA members

John Stalker, who was known for his work on the Moors murders and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, has died aged 79, his family has announced.

Stalker, the former deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester police (GMP), led an inquiry into the shooting of suspected members of the Provisional IRA in 1982.

He retired from the force in 1987 and began a career in broadcasting, hosting the series Crime Stalker on Central Television for six years.

His death was announced by his eldest daughter, Colette Cartwright, in a statement paying tribute to a “beloved husband, grandfather and great-grandfather who enriched the lives of many”.

Cartwright said: “After marrying my dear mum Stella in 1961, he spent his life as a devoted police officer, proudly serving the people of Greater Manchester for over 30 years.

“He is fondly remembered by many as going above and beyond the call of duty and was committed to making a difference for those most in need. As testament to this, he devoted his life to a career in the CID, where he worked for 16 years, rising to the rank of detective superintendent.”

Stalker became the first head of GMP’s drugs squad after holding posts in the force’s bomb squad and serious crime unit.

While a detective sergeant, Stalker investigated the Moors murderer, Ian Brady, who tortured and killed five children with his partner, Myra Hindley, between 1963 and 1965. He later said of the case: “Nothing in criminal behaviour before or since has penetrated my heart with quite the same paralysing intensity.”

Aged 38, Stalker became the youngest detective chief superintendent in the country when he was appointed head of Warwickshire CID in 1978. He was appointed deputy chief constable of GMP in 1984.

It was Stalker’s seniority in domestic policing that led to him leading an inquiry into the shootings of suspected members of the Provisional IRA by the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1983.

Stalker was removed from the inquiry in controversial circumstances after he discovered the existence of a secret tape containing potentially vital evidence of murder by RUC anti-terrorist officers in a shooting in county Armagh in October 1982.

Stalker’s report was highly classified and the circumstances of that shooting remain unclear.

Cartwright said: “During his time as a police officer, he travelled around the world studying terrorism and crime in Europe, the US and South America, and on his return he worked for two years in Northern Ireland.

“When he retired in 1987, he carved a new career as a journalist and pursued his passion for writing, subsequently publishing an autobiography in 1988, which touched on his longstanding and illustrious career.

“My dad will be sorely missed by all lives he has touched both professionally and personally. We will always be proud of him and everything he achieved.”


Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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