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Ex-weekly editor examines possible Ripper murders for TV show

Judge RinderA TV programme examining whether the Yorkshire Ripper may have committed more murders is to air today with help from a former weekly newspaper editor.

Investigative journalist Don Hale was asked by ITV to work on new series Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories to help examine whether Peter Sutcliffe, who was convicted of murdering 13 women between 1975 and 1981, was responsible for more victims.

Don, who edited the Matlock Mercury, previously worked for more than eight years to help quash the conviction of Stephen Downing, jailed for 27 years for the murder of Bakewell woman Wendy Sewell.

The unsolved case has now been subjected to 95-year secrecy restrictions by the police.

In the programme, Rinder examines fresh evidence and a pathology report discovered just two years ago by cold case detective Chris Clark, who says Mr Downing should have been cleared within days.

Other new evidence also links this case to two other similar unsolved murders nearby, and all carry the hallmark of Sutcliffe.

The programme is presented by TV presenter and criminal barrister Robert Rinder, above left, better known for ITV’s Judge Rinder, which sees him settle small claims disputes on camera.

The programme will air on ITV1 at 2pm today.

Said Don: “I found Judge Rinder’s team to be very thorough and hard working and determined to get to the truth.

“They gave me quite a grilling but we went through every aspect of the case and later worked independently interviewing both Chris Clark and Stephen Downing.

“Many of the documents to be shown on the programme and the photos were provided by me together with facts and details about the Downing family and their own long campaign for justice which eventually attracted my attention.”


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  • June 29, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Can htfp, Don or anyone else explain and identify what “95-year secrecy restrictions” are please and how and why the police went about obtaining them?

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  • June 29, 2016 at 11:18 am

    I’m similarly puzzled. Is it a court order? Is it enforceable?
    Come on UKPG, do a little digging for us. Don’t be passing off as fact something which demands further explanation.

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  • June 29, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Crime author Scott Lomax, who has written about Derbyshire’s unsolved murders says the case has been exempted by the police for 95-years, and says: “It begs the question as to what is actually contained within those reports that now warrants the files being kept from public view?”
    He added: “This murder is still unsolved and there is very strong evidence pointing to some other individual. Whatever people think, Wendy Sewell’s killer is not serving time for her murder.”

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  • June 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks Don, but I am none the wiser. I have never heard of the police having any power to “exempt” details of an unsolved murder, let alone for 95 years. Has anyone else? Why would they do that? Why 95 years anyway? What law are we talking about? Some bloke saying it doesn’t make it fact. Sounds like total hokum to me.

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  • June 30, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Don Hale, stop attributing quotes to me. I notice you have done this in a few newspaper articles. I have never said what you have quoted above. I have not even had any contact with you in several years. What I did say to you in an email in 2009 was, ‘I found out about the 95 rule for the document while searching for documents on the National Archives website. I’ve asked for them to review whetehr the information should be kept closed. Obviously they will not open the file but at least hopefully they will have to give me some sort of response to my request, which I will forward on to you.’

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  • July 8, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    With reference to the comment from Scott Lomax. He is not mentioned within the actual article and only within a clipped response to a query over this alleged 95-year police ban claim.
    He mistakenly says stop attributing quotes to him, and alleges, ‘I have never said what you have quoted above.’ He is clearly mistaken. I attributed perfectly accurate quotes from him with good reason, and also made clear reference to the source confirming they came from his writings about unsolved murders.
    Perhaps this amateur sleuth and archaeologist should dig up his old communications and in particular re-read HIS own identical quotes within HIS book – Unsolved murders in and around Derbyshire. All the quotes he denies making can be seen within Chapter 12. Wendy Sewell: Bakewell 1973. In his book he also makes extensive reference to me and my work on the Downing inquiry.
    Over the years, and at his request, I have communicated some exclusive details to him in good faith about my successful miscarriage appeals, particularly including those of Barry George and Stephen Downing, and have never objected to him making profitable use of this information.
    I know he has done some of his own research and my intention was to give him some credit for what he published. I therefore cannot understand why he is now in denial and seemingly critical of anything I say about the Downing saga? He came on the scene many years afterwards.
    I would suggest your readers should compare notes of my previous comments and the extracts from his book and draw their own conclusions and opinions on this matter:
    * In his Chapter 12 introduction, Scott confirms: ‘As far as the judicial system is concerned Wendy Sewell’s murder is unsolved and there is strong evidence pointing to some other individual.’
    * On the last page of this same chapter, his confirms, ‘My own research has revealed that the report of the DPP in relation to Stephen Downing has been made exempt from the FOI Act for a period of 95-years, begging the question of what is contained in that report that warrants it to be kept from public view. If the investigation is closed why are the police so reluctant to release any of the information contained within the file?’
    * On the last paragraph of this story, he adds, ‘Whatever people think about the case of Stephen Downing, Wendy Sewell’s killer is not serving a sentence for her murder, and the police are not absolutely sure who was responsible for battering the young woman to death in 1973.’
    I would also add that in my opinion there are some areas of potential dispute within his book and he claims Stephen Downing is a ‘mentally retarded suspect.’ That is neither a fair nor accurate description, as he suffered from learning difficulties as a child, and I sure that both he and his legal team would willingly discuss your personal assessment and allegation?

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