Myra Hindley granted leave to challenge life jail decision

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The Moors murderer, Myra Hindley, has been granted leave to challenge a ruling that she should spend the rest of her life in jail, it emerged last night.

The High Court has given the go-ahead for a judicial review of the decision, her lawyers told the BBC. Hindley's legal team will put their case at a hearing later this year.

The 'whole-life' sentence was imposed on Hindley by the then Home Secretary, David Waddington, in 1990. It was reaffirmed earlier this year by the last Conservative Home Secretary, Michael Howard, provoking a pledge from Hindley's lawyers to challenge the decision in the High Court.

They argued that the decision was unlawful and inhumane, and did not reflect the views of the judiciary consulted in the case. At the time of Mr Howard's move, Hindley's lawyers claimed he was "bowing to political pressure and public opinion" rather than considering the merits of the case.

They also claimed that the "whole-life" sentence represented an "irrational leap" from the 30-year period fixed by the Home Office in 1985.

Hindley was jailed with her accomplice, Ian Brady, in 1966 for the murders of Lesley Ann Downey, 10, and Edwards Evans, 17. In 1987 they confessed to the murders of Keith Bennett, 12, and Pauline Reade, 16. Brady also murdered John Kilbride, 12.

When Hindley was sentenced, the judge, Mr Justice Fenton, recommended only that she serve "a very long time".

There was shocked reaction to the decision from police. The Police Federation said it was its long-standing policy that there were certain categories of murder, such as those committed by Hindley and Brady, which particularly outraged public opinion, and for which a life sentence should always mean life.

The President of the Police Superintendents' Association, Chief Superintendent Brian Mackenzie, said it was only proper that an elected representative of the public should have the final say in determining how long someone like Hindley should serve. "My view is that in certain horrendous cases the population as a whole clearly have an interest..." he said.