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'What Have They Got to Hide?' Police File on Double Murderer Secret Until 2073

CC0 / / Crime scene
Crime scene - Sputnik International
A woman has been told the file on her mother's killer will remain secret for fifty-six years. Shirley Griffiths told Sputnik she was baffled why the National Archives had chosen to keep it secret, considering the killer died in 2009.

Shirley Griffiths' mother was murdered 46 years ago, and now the British woman has been told that the killer's file will remain a state secret until 2073.

© Photo : Shirley GriffithsLilian Shapero (right), was murdered in London in 1971
Lilian Shapero (right), was murdered in London in 1971 - Sputnik International
Lilian Shapero (right), was murdered in London in 1971

Terry Bewley murdered Lilian Shapero in 1971, was freed from jail to kill again in 1992, and finally died in jail in 2009.

But Mrs. Shapero's daughter, Shirley Griffiths, has been doggedly fighting for years for access to Bewley's file.

Ms. Griffiths, who is now 63, has now been told by the National Archives in Kew, south west London, that Bewley's file will not be open to the public until January 1, 2073.

"They keep saying it's for my benefit, but I have told them so many times that I want to know what is in the file. Nothing that is in it can hurt me more than the pain of losing my mother. I suspect the real reason is that they have got something to hide. Either he was a police informant or he was doing something for the police," Ms. Griffiths told Sputnik.

"I'm not doing this for myself. I'm doing it for my mother's honor," she added.

A former dedicated Homicide Investigator for the Metropolitan Police, Frank Matthews, told Sputnik the secrecy surrounding this case is highly unusual, and there is no justifiable reason for heavy restrictions placed on the file.

"I call on the Commissioner Cressida Dick to intervene and ensure that the family of a victim of murder are properly informed and apprised of the investigation. The police have a duty of care towards the victim's family and there cannot possibly be any operational reason for keeping details of the murder from family members," Mr. Matthews told Sputnik.    

Mysterious Chauffeur Job

Shirley said she believed Bewley may have figured in Operation Midland, the controversial investigation into alleged sex abuse by VIPs.

The National Archives said the information contained in the file was exempt under Section 38 (health & safety) and section 40(2) (personal information) of the Freedom of Information Act.

"The file on Terence Bewley has been closed because it contains sensitive personal information which would distress or endanger a living person or his descendants," a National Archives spokesperson told Sputnik.

Double Murderer

Bewley was 21 when he strangled Mrs. Shapero in Tottenham, north London, but he was released only nine years later, despite getting a minimum tariff of 20 years.

"It broke my dad. He died in 1987, aged 75, but he was never the same. He was a broken man," said Ms. Griffiths, who was 17 when her mother was killed.

The killer moved to the suburb of Ruislip, west of London, and worked as a chauffeur.

In 1992, Bewley was engaged in a sordid affair with Sandra Wignall, who lured her husband Bob into the woods behind his home in Surrey where he was stabbed and beaten to death by Bewley.

Bewley, who had wanted to get his hands on the £21,000 ($27,500) life insurance money, was again jailed for life, again with a minimum tariff of 20 years.

In 2006, Bewley had the gall to appeal against the length of his sentence, but it was rejected.

"If he was being sentenced today, he would be subject to a whole life order, because of his previous conviction for murder," said Mr. Justice Crane.

Three years later, Bewley died in Ashwell prison, but Mrs. Griffiths was never informed and believed he had probably been released early, just as he had after he killed her mother.

'Changing the Goalposts'

It was only in 2015 she discovered Bewley had died.

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She scoured the internet and learned that his file had been made secret until 2056.

Most files at the National Archives are released to the public after 30 years, but Bewley's has a note on it saying it must be kept secret for 100 years.

She wrote to Justice Secretary Michael Gove and several other government ministers in an attempt to get the decision reviewed, but received no reply.

In one of her letters she had pointed out she would be 103 years old when the file was finally opened.

This week she discovered that the date on the file has been changed — to 2073. She will be 117 years old, if she is still alive.

"They just keep changing the goalposts and I don't know why. What is in that file? I don't know if it's something to do with the second murder or if it is something to do with his chauffeuring job," Ms. Griffiths told Sputnik.

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