Letters obtained by the Independent from Hindley's Home Office file show that a former Lord Chief Justice and the Moors Murders trial judge both had doubts about her being incarcerated until death.
The letter from the trial judge, Mr Justice Fenton Atkinson, to Roy Jenkins, the Home Secretary in 1966, says: "Though I believe Ian Brady is wicked beyond belief without hope of redemption (short of a miracle), I cannot feel that the same is necessarilytrue of Hindley once removed from his influence.
"At present she is as deeply corrupted as Brady, but it is not so long ago that she was taking instruction in the Catholic Church and was a communicant and a normal sort of girl."
A further letter, also obtained by the Independent, demonstrates that Lord Lane, the former Lord Chief Justice, also had doubts about life meaning life for Hindley. In correspondence to Sir Brian Cubbon, a Home Office minister, in 1982, Lord Lane wrote: "I would never release Brady ...this is the case, if ever there is to be one, when a man should stay in prison till he dies. My initial views about Hindley were the same, but there are material differences between the two cases. I have modified my views to some extent, but I do not think that any term less than 25 years would be appropriate.''Hindley has served 29 years.
Late editions of the Independent disclosed yesterday that Hindley was told on Thursday of a secret decision made in 1990 by Lord Waddington, then Home Secretary, to keep her in prison until she dies. Despite the views of the judges and of a group of ministers who decided "provisionally" in 1985 that Hindley should serve 30 years, Lord Waddington decided she should never be released.
Hindley and Brady were convicted of the murders of Lesley Anne Downey and Edward Evans in 1966. In 1987, Hindley confessed to her part in the killings of Pauline Reade, Keith Bennett and John Kilbride.
Yesterday, Hindley, 52, received visits from her solicitor, Andrew McCooey, and her priest, Fr Bert White, at Cookham Wood Prison, Kent. She also spoke by telephone to her counsellor, Joe Chapman, who said: "I expected her to be depressed but she was very positive and determined that this would not be the end of the road. There were no tears.''
It is thought the letters of Lord Lane and Mr Justice Fenton Atkinson, and the fact that ministers had previously thought 30 years was sufficient punishment, might form the basis of an application for judicial review.
Text of letters, page 3