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'Dr Death' details stun families

Christopher Rudol, whose father Ernest was one of Shipman's victims, reacts to hearing news of the Shipman Inquiry
Christopher Rudol, whose father Ernest was one of Shipman's victims, reacts to hearing news of the Shipman Inquiry  

HYDE, England -- Relatives of some of the 215 victims murdered by Dr. Harold Shipman described how they felt "totally vindicated" after a report revealed the full horrors of the case.

The family doctor known as "Dr. Death" had probably progressed from being hooked on the drug pethidine in the 1970s to being "addicted to killing," inquiry chief Dame Janet Smith said. (Profile: The silent slayer)

Smith's 2,000-page report -- the first in a series -- revealed that by the time Shipman was finally arrested in 1998 he had killed 215 patients, including the 15 for which he has been convicted.

It also concluded there was a "real suspicion" that the doctor from Hyde, Greater Manchester, could have killed another 45 and there were 38 cases where no verdict was reached because of a lack ov evidence. (Full Story)

Smith said the "way in which Shipman could kill, face the relatives, and walk away unsuspected would be dismissed as fanciful if described in a work of fiction."

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"If you do not trust your doctor who can you trust?"
-- Doris McNee
Hyde resident

Relatives of the dead said they felt "totally vindicated" for going to the High Court to fight for a public inquiry after the British government said at first it should be held in private.

"I firmly believe the decision of the families to fight for a public inquiry has been wholly vindicated by the process to date," the families' solicitor Ann Alexander told a news conference in Hyde, where at least 143 died at Shipman's hands.

Alexander praised Smith's inquiry as "thorough and meticulous."

She said the document was only the first phase of the inquiry that was still examining "the systemic and personal failures which allowed Shipman to kill again and again" to stop anything like it ever happening again. (The system failed)

"Public scrutiny has revealed the manifest shortcomings in the first police investigation... This would probably have been missed had this inquiry not been public.

"There is no doubt that in my mind that we would never have got to the truth in private."

Alexander also said the families thought the role of the British doctors' governing body, the GMC, was "probably for them the most important matter which needs to be examined."

She said that in the 1960s it had been reported to the GMC that Shipman had been convicted of both drugs and forgery offences but the doctors' body "didn't take any steps at all."

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Jane Hibbert, whose mother Hilda Hibbert was among those murdered told the news conference, she should be shocked at the number of victims but it had been evident the figure was more than 100, she said.

"It's hard to come to terms with it, but I'm glad that the relatives have had individual verdicts and have been able to come to some kind of finality for their own families."

The son of another of Shipman's victims, Peter Wagstaff said: "You can't make sense of it all.

"You can obviously despise him and come to terms with the fact you have been dealing with one of the most evil men in history but everyone must have their own personal feelings about what they think." (Admit slaughter says local priest)

Shipman was probably "addicted to killing" the inquiry report said  

Suzanne Brock whose mother Edith, 74, was killed by Shipman told Sky News it had been an uphill battle to find out the truth.

"Its been a struggle," said Brock. "Its been a rollercoaster of emotion. Every step of the way we have had to fight for the families who have been affected by this," Brock said.

The daughter-in-law of one of Shipman's patients, Norma Dean, 66, told the UK's Press Association: "What annoys me is that the police had a chance to find this out before and they did not.

"People knew there was something wrong and if they had taken it further a lot of people would still be here today."


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