I notice that Ian Brady features in the news again, this time as a result of a solicitor publishing the transcripts of two meetings held with the convicted murderer at Ashmore Special Hospital in 2006. Representing Winnie Johnson, mother of missing victim Keith Bennett, the solicitor apparently met with Brady at his request and attempted to persuade him to reveal the whereabouts of Keith's body.
This surprising news comes hard on the heels of the recent Channel 4 documentary 'Ian Brady : Endgames of a Psychopath' screened just days before Mrs Johnson's death last week. I assume that as a result of her death the solicitor feels able to breach confidentiality, hopefully in consultation with her family, but I'm still a little surprised by the timing, being just three days before the funeral.
But then surprising can only be my reaction to the Channel 4 film and the part played by so-called Mental Health Advocate Jackie Powell. You will recall that transmission was presaged by widespread media coverage of her arrest and charging with an offence of Preventing the Lawful Burial of a Body. This came about as a result of her revealing that Brady had handed her a sealed envelope with instructions that it only be opened following his death. She speculated to the producer of the film that the envelope may contain details of Keith's whereabouts. No wonder all hell broke loose when Greater Manchester Police found out and eventually decided to act, obtaining Search Warrants for both Jackie's home and the hospital.
To be honest there was nothing particularly surprising in this film about Ian Brady and his continued highly psychopathic and manipulative traits, but what exactly is going on with long-term visitor Jackie Powell? How on earth did she feel it appropriate to be cooperating with a film crew if she was a Mental Health Advocate? Has she no line manager or support network reigning her in a bit when dealing with one of the most manipulative patients it's possible to imagine? I gasped out loud when I'm sure I heard her say that she is Executor to Brady's Will and has an Enduring Power of Attorney over his affairs. Surely this cannot be right or sensible for a Mental Health Advocate?
Well, rooting around on the internet as one does, I came across this statement by Action for Advocacy expressing very similar concerns. According to this the whole concept of legally-appointed Mental Health Advocates for certain patients detained compulsorily only came about as a result of the Mental Health Act 2007 and enacted from 1st April 2009. Such persons have to be qualified and appropriately supervised. It will be interesting to see what comes out about Jackie Powell's role in this whole sorry saga.
Meanwhile, Brady's Mental Health Tribunal Appeal into his demands to be declared sane and thus be returned to prison remains adjourned following his recent seizure. Having been forcibly fed since 1999, he hopes to regain ultimate control over his destiny by being allowed to starve himself to death in prison. This will only be possible though if the medical profession conclude that he is no longer mentally ill and are able to convince the Tribunal.
For those who are pondering if he has a probation officer, I think that will indeed be the case as he remains a convicted murderer subject to Special Hospital transfer and restriction under the Mental Health Act 1983.