On the 6th of November fifty members of the Forum attended the weekly meeting to meet the guest speaker Veronica Bird MBE. Veronica spent her working life in the Prison Service reaching the rank of Governor, being the first female to be Governor of a male prison.
Her talk was titled Notorious Prisoners in which she described some of the more notable prisoners of modern times, many of whom she had met in her professional capacity. She began with some of the most famous female murderers beginning with Myra Hindley who she met at Holloway.
Veronica described Hindley as manipulative; she fell in love with a prison officer who helped her to organise her escape. This was successful but, on recapture, the officer received a six-year prison sentence.
Mary Bell murdered two little boys when she was ten years old and was in the prison system for many years. She was eventually released under an assumed name, a very rare practice.
Charlie Bronson was described as Britain’s most dangerous man and Ian Huntly, the Soham child killer, has applied to be allowed to change sex.
Veronica then described Britain’s worst miscarriage of justice in which Stefan Kiszko was imprisoned for sixteen years for murder although forensic evidence proved he could not possibly have committed the crime.
Veronica also included Harold Shipman and the Price Sisters (notorious IRA bombers) in her list of notorious prisoners.
The most unusual prisoner she encountered was Gary Powers, the spy-plane pilot who she met when visiting a Moscow prison.
Forum members asked many questions at the end of the talk before time pressure forced Chairman Mike Earle to close the meeting.