Police waited two weeks to act after being told of Ian Brady letter

Family vows to continue searching for Keith Bennett's body despite his mother's death

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The Independent Online

The brother of the Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett said yesterday their mother's death must not represent "closure" in the hunt for Keith's body, as police faced questions about why they took two weeks to act on a letter allegedly giving details of where he is buried.

Alan Bennett, whose 12-year-old brother Keith was abducted and killed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in June 1964, has vowed to continue the hunt for Keith's remains in order to fulfil his mother's last wish of a Christian burial for her son.

Winnie Johnson, who died from cancer on Friday at 78, had spent almost 50 years pleading with her son's murderers to reveal the whereabouts of his body.

In a post on his website yesterday, Mr Bennett wrote: "As far as I am concerned, until Keith is found, then he is still in the possession of Brady and Hindley. Our fear as a family is that now my mother is no longer with us, this may be seen by the police and the media as some sort of closure to the [Moors murders] case. This must not be allowed to happen."

Hindley died in 2002, and after five decades of silence from Brady, currently held in a secure psychiatric unit in Merseyside, the case took a new turn last week when it emerged that he had passed a sealed envelope to his mental health advocate, Jackie Powell. This was to be handed to Mrs Johnson in the event of his death and would allow her to "find peace".

Mrs Johnson was not informed of the letter in the days before her death due to her declining health.

During filming for a Channel 4 documentary due to be aired this evening, Ms Powell speculated that the contents of the letter might reveal the exact location on Saddleworth Moor, near Oldham in Lancashire, where Brady buried Keith after strangling him with a piece of string.

However, it has now emerged that producers of the documentary waited 10 days before passing on their knowledge of the letter to Greater Manchester Police, who took a further two weeks to arrest Ms Powell on suspicion of preventing the lawful burial of a body.

Ms Powell claims that she has returned the letter to Brady. She has since been released on bail.

A spokesperson for the family questioned the police's slow response, telling the Mail on Sunday: "Did detectives treat this as a serious matter?

"If Brady has written a confession letter of some sort then that could be a vital piece of evidence which should have been considered immediately. And if detectives had such information why didn't they act on it?"

Alan Bennett added to the criticism, claiming that police had ignored evidence from two "extremely credible" witnesses, including David Smith, the chief prosecution witness at the original trial, that could have revealed the location of the body. Mr Smith died in May.

In a final interview with the The Sun published yesterday, Mrs Johnson described Brady's refusal to reveal Keith's whereabouts on the Moors as his "final sick twist".

Days before her death, she said: "I don't give a s*** about Brady any more. I am running out of time and just want to bring my son home."

Police searches have so far failed to yield a letter or any evidence suggesting that Brady had disclosed the location of the body.