PETER FROST investigates three cases where criminals used their position in society to evade the law.
Ten years ago this month Dr Harold shipman took his own life. He was almost certainly Britain’s most prolific, civilian mass murderer.
He got away with his crimes for so long because of the respectable place he held in society.
At his trial he was found guilty of just 15 murders. Yet according to the public inquiry into his crimes, the former family doctor killed at least 215 of his patients over 23 years.
His first victim may well have been Eva Lyons, who was killed in March 1975 on the eve of her 71st birthday.
In February 1976, the young Shipman was convicted of obtaining the drug pethidine by forgery and deception. He was addicted to the drug.
After receiving treatment in York, he became a GP in Hyde, Greater Manchester where he continued his killing spree.
His favoured method of murder was an injection of diamorphine – pharmaceutical heroin. Most of his victims were elderly women.
When Shipman was sacked for forging prescriptions, he received a fine and a warning letter, but was not struck off by the General Medical Council (GMC).
Any medical authority or indeed patients who asked about Shipman would not have been told about his conviction. Shipman, as a doctor, had become a pillar of society.
By 1998 the local undertaker became suspicious of the large number of Dr Shipman’s patients’ that were dying, and the fact that they had all expressed a wish to be cremated.
Undertaker Deborah Bambroffe went to the police who warned her not to make serious accusations about such a respectable member of the community as Dr. Shipman. The police decided that the case required no further action.
His last victim was Kathleen Grundy. Shipman. Mrs Grundy’s daughter discovered her mother had left Shipman £386,000 in her will. Shipman had actually forged the will.
Mrs Grundy’s body was exhumed and morphine was found. Shipman was arrested.
The bodies of another eleven victims were exhumed over the next two months. Meanwhile police checked Shipman’s computer and found false causes of death on death certificates.
An official inquiry concluded that Shipman killed at least 215 patients. It also found that his last three victims could have been saved if the police had investigated properly.
A further report criticised the General Medical Council (GMC) for failing in its primary task of looking after patients because it was too involved in protecting doctors.
We will never know exactly how many murders Harold Shipman actually committed. We do know he got away with it so long because as a supposedly respectable pillar of the community, the local doctor, he was above suspicion.
The Lord who thought he was untouchable.
Jeffrey Archer always believed he was untouchable. His friendship with Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and his position as Chairman of the Tory Party convinced him he was above the law.
Sadly it seems he may be right. Despite scandal after scandal he is still a Lord and still is part of establishment. After a lifetime of lies, scandal and perjury he still plays his part in running the country as a member of the House of Lords.
Archer came from a family of criminals. His father William was a bigamist, swindler and compulsive liar who was tried at the Old Bailey 87 years before his son.
Jeffery Archer followed in his father’s footsteps. After gaining just three ‘O’ levels at school Archer began lying in a big way. He claimed degrees from the University of California and invented a bogus military career for his father.
As a PE teacher he managed to get into Oxford University to begin a diploma in education.
Even as a student Jeffrey Archer was under suspicion. He owned houses and cars with personalised number plates while working part time as an Oxfam fund raiser.
As an MP in 1973, he settled out of court after he was accused of fiddling his expenses for United Nations charity work. Archer paid all costs and the allegations against him were never retracted.
Margaret Thatcher warned Archer to tidy up his disreputable personal life but he could not resist sex with prostitutes. He believed his lies or his respectable position would protect him.
When he was caught paying call girl Monica Coghlan he begged the editor of the News of the World not to publish. They did and he sued both that paper and the Daily Star.
Archer persuaded friends to help him prepare a completely fraudulent libel case. But it was all to come out and Archer was eventually tried and imprisoned for Perjury.
Amazingly Jeffrey Archer has always bounced back – from fiddling expenses, near bankruptcy, claims of shoplifting in Toronto, and the allegations of insider dealing over the £80,000 profit made on Anglia TV shares when his wife was a company director.
I suppose that is what happens when you are a respectable criminal and a Lord of the Realm.
The blue-blooded murderer.
This year also marks exactly forty years after Lord Lucan got away with murder and with the help of the so called cream of British society, he disappeared forever.
Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan is eighty this year if he is still alive and in hiding.
Like so many of his class he was at Eton and then joined the Coldstream Guards, as an officer of course. Lord Lucan developed a taste for gambling when it was still against the law in Britain.
He gambled at illegal London clubs run by various blue blooded criminals including none other than our present Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne’s grandmother..
When his marriage collapsed lost a bitter legal custody battle. He refused to give up his God given right as an aristocrat to bring up his children.
On the evening of 7 November 1974, the Lucan’s children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett, was bludgeoned to death in the Lucan family home.
Lady Lucan was also attacked; she identified Lucan as her assailant.
He drove to a friend’s house in Uckfield, Sussex. Hours later, he left and was never seen again.
A warrant for his arrest was issued and the inquest named him as her murderer.
His rich and aristocratic circle of friends helped his escape. Doing all they could to hamper police enquiries. Lord Lucan, murderer and aristocrat has never been found.
First published in the Morning Star January 2014