Historical piece of mine written and published in the Big Issue in the South magazine of
March 5th 2004.
Ripper solicitors were doubtful he'd done all the murdersA British born businessman living in Melbourne has reported comments made to him about the mass murderer Peter Sutcliffe, better known as ‘The Yorkshire Ripper’, by the senior partners from the solicitors company who represented him in May 1981.
Tony Holland alleges they told him that; “the Ripper wants to plead not guilty to 6 of the murders” because “he does not know about them.”
After Sutcliffe was charged with murder in January 1981 he was represented by the solicitors firm Lumb and Kenningham. Junior partner, Kerry Macgill, and John Lumb handled the case for the company. Macgill is now a circuit judge.
Kenningham, Lumb and Holland were friends when they all lived in Bradford in the 1970s.
They were also business partners and joint shareholders in a property company called Vilindra. Land registry records show that along with Gene Fagan they purchased a property at 7 Russell Street, Little Horton in Bradford on June 26th 1978.
As a result of their business dealings Holland claims to have been a regular visitor to the Lumb and Kenningham offices between 1977 and May 1981 when Sutcliffe was convicted.
Holland has stated that “when Lumb and Macgill got to see Sutcliffe he was unable to give full details on all the murders” and “when I asked Derek Kenningham about this he told me, they had nothing on 6 murders” and this was “not because Sutcliffe did not want to talk about the murders” as “he was very talkative” about the other murders but “because he does not know about them”.
The comments attributed to Lumb and Kenningham give some weight to a number of stories that Peter Sutcliffe may not have murdered all of the women he was convicted of.
In 1980 a major Sunday Times ‘Insight’ piece claimed that Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, who took overall control of the chase for the Ripper after the murder of sixteen year old Jayne Macdonald in Leeds in June 1977 had said ‘Oldfield conceded to us – that there is not one Ripper, but – at least –two.’
Later in 1989 R.J.P. Warren, deputy chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority said “it was known in the top echelons of the police that two men were involved in the series of murders.” Brian Marriner, author of ‘A century of sex killers’ said “I don’t think now that Sutcliffe did all the killings he confessed to.”
Holland further alleges that a senior Detective told him he knew the man who became famous as ‘Wearside Jack’ after a tape was posted to the police taunting them for not catching the Ripper. The voice, which was distinctive and located as from the Sunderland area caused the police to concentrate their efforts on finding someone with a Wearside accent, this allowed Sutcliffe to escape arrest on the numerous occasions he was questioned.
On May 22nd 1981 Sutcliffe was found guilty of the murder of 13 women and seven attempted murders. He was jailed for life, with a recommendation that he should serve at least thirty years.
Holland has lived in Australia since 1982 and has courted controversy by his occasional willingness to talk about his work in the British security organisation, M16 in the 1970s.
Neither Lumb nor Kenningham have so far been willing to comment on Holland’s claims after letters were sent to them.