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The BBC's Kevin Bouquet
"Shipman was never charged with Bertha Moss's murder"
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Friday, 5 January, 2001, 11:31 GMT
A nightmare for more families
Harold Shipman
Harold Shipman: Patient records studied
Suggestions that Harold Shipman may have killed as many as 297 people have come as no surprise to some.

The families of his victims, and those who suspect their loved ones were killed by the GP, say the Department of Health's report will open old wounds for some and raise new questions for others.

But they add that people will never know for sure the extent of the murders until Shipman admits to the crimes.

Hyde councillor Joe Kitchen said he is sure the GP killed his mother Alice.

If he admitted his guilt it would make it a lot better for a lot of families

Jane Ashton Hibbert
"Shipman alleged that my mum phoned him in June 1994 saying that she felt unwell in the afternoon,"he told the BBC.

"He then went out and visited her and told us she had obviously had a stroke - she was dragging her feet and slurring her words - and he advised that she should go to hospital.

"Shipman then said my mum refused so he left a note on the mantelpiece advising the family when they got home.

"By the time my brother got in at six o'clock, he found my mother dead on the settee."

He said the latest disclosure had helped his family but would raise questions in the minds of many people whose relatives died in suspicious circumstances.

"Our family, along with two others, have already been through an inquest when the coroner clearly said my mother had been unlawfully killed," he said.


"A lot of families are not in that position and it is going to be extremely difficult for them. Obviously we are not really going to know until Shipman admits to committing these crimes."

Jane Ashton Hibbert, whose grandmother Hilda Hibbert died in January 1996 and is thought to have been one of Shipman's victims, also said Shipman had to admit to his crimes.

"If he admitted his guilt it would make it a lot better for a lot of families," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Some of the families are in no-man's land, they have got no way to turn, they don't know, they are never going to know - that's the difficult part of this case.


Mike Woodruff, whose mother-in-law, Irene Turner, was one of the 15 people originally identified as Shipman's victims, said he thought the new figure would cause panic amongst people in Hyde.

He said his family and others had always suspected that the former GP had killed more of his patients.

Ms Turner was 67 when Shipman murdered her with a lethal injection of diamorphine in 1996.

Mr Woodruff said: "The initial reaction will be panic and people will be astounded. But the people in the know will not be surprised.

"People will be amazed at these figures without any doubt, but I don't know what good they will do apart from to cause panic among people.

Irene Turner
Irene Turner: One of the 15 people originally identified as Shipman's victims
"It makes me wonder why, if these figures were to do with the Department of Health, this government has been so against a public inquiry.

"After the verdicts the Coroner said he could have killed up to 1,500, so nothing would surprise me."

Helen Blackwell's mother, Bertha Moss, was one of 23 people suspected to have been among Shipman's victims.

The Director of Public Prosecutions decided not the make him stand trial for those murders on the grounds that it would not be in the public interest.

Mrs Blackwell, 47, agreed that the new figure was no surprise but would raise new questions for others.

"I think everyone is going to start looking again at how their loved ones died - I know personally of people who suspected but didn't come forward and this will open new wounds for them," she said.

"Some people didn't come forward because they aren't able to handle it and there may be other people who just never suspected."

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See also:

28 Dec 00 | Health
Male Shipman 'victim' named
29 Feb 00 | UK
Shipman launches appeal
11 Feb 00 | Health
Shipman struck off
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