Moors murderer Ian Brady insists he is sane

MOORS murderer Ian Brady has spoken publicly for the first time in nearly half a century, describing himself as a “petty criminal” who used “method acting” in order to be diagnosed as criminally insane.

A sketch of Ian Brady appearing via video at the tribunal. Picture: PA
A sketch of Ian Brady appearing via video at the tribunal. Picture: PA

Insisting he was not psychotic or mentally ill, one of Britain’s most notorious murderers said that his crimes were “recreational killings” which had offered him an “existential experience”.

Giving evidence at his mental health tribunal as part of a long-running campaign to be transferred to prison from Ashworth psychiatric hospital, he said: “I’m in the position of a monkey in a cage being poked with a stick.”

He compared himself to Jack the Ripper, and said the media and public remained obsessed with his crimes for “theatrical reasons”. With his partner Myra Hindley, Brady tortured and murdered five children, burying some of their victims’ bodies on Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester.

He was jailed for life in 1966. Hindley died in hospital, still a prisoner, in 2002 at the age of 60.

Speaking in a soft Scottish accent, Brady admitted he will never be freed because the British public wanted him to stay in custody.

The 75-year-old insisted he is not insane and wanted to be transferred from the “penal warehouse” in Ashworth, Merseyside.

However, relatives of his victims described the tribunal as “a complete waste of taxpayers’ money” which would be better spent trying to locate the body of Keith Bennett, one of Brady’s victims.

Giving his evidence in person on the final day of the tribunal at Ashworth, Brady wore a dark suit, white shirt and tie, and tinted glasses during his four-hour appearance.

His answers were measured, but at times he embarked on lengthy digressions in which he expressed disdain for the psychiatric profession.

Eleanor Grey QC, counsel for Ashworth, asked him whether he accepted that he was ill at the time he was transferred there in 1985, when he was said to have shown psychotic symptoms of hallucinations and delusions.

“Have you heard of Stanislavsky?” replied Brady. “If you knew who Stanislavksy is … have you heard of method acting? Does that make it clear to you?”

Ms Grey later asked: “Do you accept you have ever been mentally ill?” Brady told her: “No.”

Throughout the hearing, Brady refused to answer directly whether he would take his own life in jail if he gets his wish to be transferred from the maximum security hospital.

Refusing to be drawn on his previous stated intention to starve himself to death in jail, he told the tribunal panel: “I know what my plans are. They are nothing to do with anyone else.”

At one point in proceedings, his barrister, Nathalie Lieven QC, asked him directly if he wished to kill himself in prison.

He replied: “I have been asked the question repeatedly. I have answered hypothetically from all angles.

“In prison you are a monkey in a cage being poked with a stick. How can you pretend to be omnipotent? You cannot make plans when you have no freedom of control, movement or anything. As I say, a monkey in a cage being poked by a stick. You cannot talk sensibly about anything with a question like that.”

When asked about the crimes he committed and whether that made him abnormal, Brady compared what he described as “recreational killings” to the acts of soldiers and politicians.

“A criminal in a pursuit of crime is going to gain from the crime,” he said. “He has given a value to the person he is about to kill.”

“What value did you get?” asked Dr Cameron Boyd, a forensic psychologist and member of the panel. Brady replied: “Existential experience.”

“You do not view in your case that would be abnormal,” said Mr Boyd. Brady said: “The distinction takes up two whole pages in the Oxford Companion to Literature.”

At one point, he made reference to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, denouncing Britain as a “psychopathic country.” By those standards, Brady added, he was a “comparable petty criminal”.

Asked why he wanted to go back to jail, he explained: “After 50 years I have had enough, I’m not interested in continuing …this, what would you call it, half a century in captivity. On and on and on, nothing’s changed. I’m going down.”

During the hearing, which was relayed to the press and public on television screens at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Brady reserved scorn for the media and its continued interest in him.

“Why are they still talking about Jack the Ripper, after a century? Because of the dramatic background, the fog, cobbled streets,” he reflected. “Mine’s the same … Wuthering Heights, Hound of the Baskervilles.”

He repeatedly criticised psychiatrists, stressing he would “throw a net over them.”

Refusing to accept he had ever been mentally ill, he dismissed Ashworth’s assertions that he had hallucinations and would talk to himself in his room.

He revealed he would memorise whole pages of Shakespeare and Plato when in his cell and would interact with the


“Who doesn’t talk to themselves? This is a question people very rarely ask,” he said.

Brady said the question to consider was his mental capacity and whether or not “I am sane or insane,” insisting: “That is the question I am here to prove and get on to prison.”

He also dismissed reports that he had asked for a prison transfer to Scotland as “complete


The hearing was adjourned until today when the panel will hear final submissions from both counsel.

The panel’s decision is expected to be announced tomorrow but the reasons will be revealed at a later date as the panel goes through a “tremendous amount of material” which runs to 14,000 pages of transcripts.

The musings of a monster: Brady on…

Talking to himself

GIVING evidence at his mental health tribunal, Ian Brady insisted that he was not mentally ill or psychotic, instead condemning the psychiatric profession.

The Moors Murderer admitted talking to himself while in his cell, but said that should not be regarded as psychosis.

During his appearance yesterday, he revealed how his time in captivity has been in part spent familiarising himself with great works of literature, which he memorised and recited in his cell.

But he defended himself against accusations

that such behaviour was an example of his psychosis.

He said: “I was in solitary confinement for a time. I would memorise whole pages of Shakespeare (left) and Plato and other people

and recite them all to myself while walking up and down exercising in the cell.

“If I interact with the TV, Tony Blair or something on, and make any comment, this is interpreted as psychosis.

“And er, who doesn’t talk to themselves. This is a question people very rarely ask.”

Psychosis and diagnosis

BRADY reserved much of his anger and resentment for the way he was perceived and assessed by medical staff. He hit out at the way patients were diagnosed, and compared the process to that of a zoologist examining an animal.

He stressed that he was not psychotic. “I’m in the position of a monkey in a cage being poked with a stick.

“You are just a package. If you put anybody in a cage and simply pin labels on them [such as] aggressive, antisocial, paranoid, whatever, and then poke them with a stick, in zoology you will get a reaction eventually. And you will say ‘I told you so.’ That’s the position you’re in anywhere.”

He was then asked about how he would cope if prison staff challenged his “occasional difficult behaviour”.

He said he dealt with conflict by picking up his pen and writing complaints. “I will use MPs [right], petitions, whatever is required.” he said. He added his pen had been “propaganda” for the past 50 years.

“If any prison warder wants a problem I will simply stand there nodding, wait for them to let off abuse and shut the door.

“I then pick up the pen and do the damage by writing immediately to the right people on the outside.”

Taking his own life

BRADY was asked bluntly by his barrister, Nathalie Lieven QC, if he wished to kill himself in prison.

It was, he explained, an issue to which he had given great thought, but again, Brady used the question to rail against the way the authorities had treated him.

“[I have] answered the question hypothetically from all angles,” he explained. But ultimately, the question of suicide was not one he could answer, given his lack of freedom.

He added: “You can’t make plans when you have no freedom of control, movement or anything. In that situation, you can’t talk sensibly or predictably about anything such as a question like that.”

Brady was directly asked why he wanted to leave Ashworth Hospital (left). He said originally it was a “decent and progressive” regime when it was the “star” of the specialist high-security hospitals such as Broadmoor and Rampton.

But he complained that the regime changed when Ashworth went from being run by the Home Office to being under the control of the NHS.

Prison staff

HAVING made reference to his reading material, Brady told the tribunal that one the things he yearned for during his time in incarceration was stimulating conversation.

That, he suggested, was not forthcoming from psychiatrists, whom he condemned in harsh terms. However, he said his fellow inmates were “perfectly mentally healthy” compared to prison officials.

“The most beneficial and therapeutic treatment any prisoner can get is decent intelligent staff in a decent intelligent ward,” he said. “As I say, I enjoy freewheeling conversations, I’m not interested in being analysed.

“Some of these psychiatrists, I would throw a net over them. I would not allow them on the street. They are unbelievable.

“How has this person got the job in the first place and how is it they’re able to hold the job?”

Brady added: “I talk to patients who are intelligent. I talk to patients who are not intelligent. Most prisoners are perfectly mentally healthy compared with the paranoia of prison officials.”

War in Iraq and Afghanistan

ONE of the many lengthy digressions Brady made while giving evidence before the tribunal panel saw him condemn the actions of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The child killer argued that he was a “petty criminal” compared to the supposed “war crimes” committed by Mr Blair in Iraq.

“I am as pragmatic as soldiers or a politician,” he said. “You don’t see any regret from Tony Blair. In fact he is minting a future from his war crimes.

“This dichotomy is common throughout all levels of society. Your bankers bankrupting the country, the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, people being killed daily.”

He said Mr Blair “started five wars in his period in office”.

He added: “Most people don’t recognise the fact that Britain is a psychopathic country. It’s been invading countries for the last 300 years.”

He said that politicians were capable of killing “by the million”.