Moors murderer Ian Brady bemoans detention treatment

'I am the sole high-profile prisoner Ashworth holds to exploit as a demonising agent,' killer says in letter

The Moors murderer Ian Brady has complained about low wages and poor treatment at the top-security hospital where he is held, in a wide-ranging letter in which he also claims that people do not feel safe walking the streets.

In the eight-page handwritten letter to his MP, George Howarth, and his solicitor, Brady criticises the government for undermining civil liberties by playing on people's security fears.

The killer, now 70, is held in Ashworth hospital, Merseyside, where he claims he is getting a £25-a-week allowance while others at the hospital get £100. As a "prison transfer", Brady is entitled to £1,300 of taxpayers' cash a year - less than the amount for full-time patients.

He has been on hunger strike since 2001 and is being kept alive by force-feeding. He has said he wants to return to an ordinary prison where he says he would be free to starve himself to death.

In his letter, Brady rails against the regime at Ashworth. "Perhaps more embarrassing to prudently financial New Labour are the ranks of tramps and malingerers who have escaped into Ashworth to avoid working for a living, demanding and receiving full board and full benefits of £100 per week pocket money for life (we prison transfers receive only £25, being regarded as 'patients' only for restrictions)," he writes.

While boasting that he is "in the top 5% of the UK population" for intelligence, he says: "Cataracts I've had for 10 years are untreated, as my visiting an outside hospital would again draw unwanted attention.

"Quality background: Haven't exercised in the open air since 1975; stopped all social visits since 1998 when Ashworth became less than a prison; confined to ward for past 23 years; force-fed since 1999. I - a 70-year-old tube-fed skeleton - am the sole high-profile prisoner Ashworth holds to exploit as a demonising agent."

The letter goes on: "In like fashion New Labour exploits the threat of a few fertiliser bombs to panic and heard a bovine generation. As a child I watched German planes daily/nightly bomb Glasgow back to full employment; New Labour has accomplished more permanent diminution of human/civil liberties than WW2 bombs and rockets ever achieved.

"New Labour's disregard for human/civil rights is now a general contagion, with each infliction coated in a syrup of entirely cosmetic 'safeguards' for swallowing."

He criticises the "surveillance society" that he says "rightly has people complaining they can't safely walk the streets".

Brady instructed Liverpool-based RMNJ, mental health specialist lawyers, to appeal to a mental health review tribunal to allow him to be transferred to a conventional jail.

His solicitor, Richard Nicholas, of RMNJ, said, "The change in the therapeutic environment at Ashworth since the late 1990s has led Mr Brady to wish to be transferred back to prison. He wishes to be free from the power of psychiatrists under the Mental Health Act, including the power to artificially prolong his life by force feeding."

Brady was jailed for life alongside his former lover Myra Hindley in 1966 for murdering three children. He later confessed to killing two more.

The victims were buried on Saddleworth Moor, in the Pennines above Manchester. The pair later took snapshots of themselves standing over the graves.

Hindley died in prison in 2002, aged 60. She had waged a long, unsuccessful campaign to be released.


Jenny Percival and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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