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Serial killer Harold Shipman’s letters are made public

Letters written by serial killer Dr Harold Shipman while he was in prison have been made public for the first time.

Shipman murdered 215 of his patients using the drug diamorphine over a period of 20 years.

But in the letters, which are analysed in a BBC programme tonight, he claims no one saw him do anything.

In one letter he says: “No one saw me do anything. As for stealing morphine off the terminally ill, again no one saw me do it.”

In another he says: “The police complain I'm boring. No mistresses, home abroad, money in Swiss banks — I'm normal. If that is boring, I am.”

Psychologist Dr David Holmes says Shipman's letters show he relished the attention of being Britain's most prolific serial killer.

The doctor told BBC One's Inside Out North West that Shipman thought he was a “medical god”.

He said: “He saw no-one as being superior to him. In his own mind, in his own eyes, he was some sort of medical god.”

Shipman died in January 2004 after hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire.

Senior judge Dame Janet Smith led an investigation into the doctor's killing spree.

She recommended changes to the structure of the General Medical Council (GMC), tighter access to controlled drugs and reform of death certification to make it less open to abuse.

But she said she was “disappointed” that key recommendations from her report had not been achieved.

“We haven't moved at all on the basic death certification. It's exactly the same,” she said.

More stringent cremation forms were introduced in January last year but there is still no unified system covering all deaths, as Dame Smith recommended.

Revalidation, an ‘MOT' of a doctor's fitness to practice, also has not been introduced.

Barry Swann, whose aunt and mother were both killed by Shipman, said: “It would be a travesty after all that we have been through if there were still loopholes.”

In a statement to the BBC programme, the Department of Health said the majority of recommendations from the Shipman Inquiry have now been implemented.

A spokesman said: “This, crucially, included much better safeguarding of controlled drugs.

“Reforming the process of death certification requires changes to primary and secondary legislation — this takes time.

“We've already made changes to primary legislation and decisions on priorities for this area will be made in the coming weeks.”

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