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Hello, welcome to Midlands Today with Jackie Kabler and Nick Owen.
The headlines tonight: New revelations about the murder of a
Shropshire peace campaigner 30 years ago.
Facing relegation - Aston Villa on the edge after another defeat.
totally and utterly a shambles. The manager needs to go. There's a good
chance we could go now. I can't see us getting many points in the last
three games. Save this traditional high street -
the protesters trying to stop a new superstore.
And a permanent memorial for generations of miners who worked in
Good evening, welcome to Midlands Today from the BBC this Wednesday
evening. Tonight: Calls for a 30- year-old murder case to be re-
opened. There are fresh demands for a new investigation into the murder
of an anti-nuclear campaigner in the mid-1980s. Hilda Murrell's
death led to extraordinary conspiracy theories, among them
that M15 agents had kidnapped her from her home in Shrewsbury. But
seven years ago, a local man, Andrew George, was jailed for
murdering Miss Murrell during a burglary. In an exclusive BBC
interview, though, a former prisoner claims four other men were
also involved and remain at large. Mr A, who can't be identified for
legal reasons, says the full story has yet to come out. Here's Giles
Latcham. For seven years he kept quiet but,
now, Mr A has decided to break his silence. In prison, he befriended
Andrew George, the only man convicted of killing Hilda Murrell.
But he's convinced George was part of a gang. He did burgle the house,
it was a burglary that went wrong. He did stab Hilda, he did drive her
to the copse, he did put the body there, but there was more people
involved, he didn't do it alone. Hilda, a renowned rose-grower from
Shrewsbury, was murdered in 1984 - abducted, stabbed, driven into the
countryside and left to die. Police were convinced they were looking
for a local burglar but theories emerged claiming she was killed in
a botched MI5 operation. Then in 2005, labourer Andrew George was
jailed for life. His DNA was found on Hilda's clothing. In prison, he
confessed to Mr A but named others too. I wrote those names down on a
piece of paper and I put them underneath my shoe, in the sole of
my shoe, so the next time I saw the police, I could give them those
names because I believed those names to be quite important. I give
them the police but from that moment on, they told me to stop
talking to George and that was when the trigger happened to move him
out of that prison. According to the MI5 theories, Hilda was under
surveillance either because of her anti-nuclear views or because she
might have got information from her nephew in naval intelligence, Rob
Green, about the controversial sinking of the Argentine warship
the Belgrano in the Falklands war. In reality, Mr A says it was Andrew
George and his pals after money for drugs. He always went back to the
fact that he used to inhale gas and aerosols. It was glue and other
things like that. It was his circle of friends, they wanted money for
drugs, they wanted money for other bits and bobs. It was just the
local delinquents in the area. It wasn't the Government. In a case
full of unanswered questions, one of the most curious is why would
Andrew George drive Hilda Murrell six miles out into the countryside
before leaving her to die in those woods over there. The conspiracy
theorists would have it that this was an abduction so that she could
be questioned by intelligence agents. Less colourfully, speaking
to Mr A in prison, Andrew George said the feisty Hilda put up a
struggle in the house and they wanted her out of the way. They
wanted to clean the house of all the valuables and they wanted her
gone so they sent George away and the journey didn't go as planned.
Um, crashed the vehicle and he stabbed her. When he got back to
the house XXX had arranged a van, in his words, to clean the house,
to get everything they possibly could. Hilda's nephew Rob Green
continues to campaign for the case to be re-opened. In a new book, he
reveals that more DNA belonging to someone other than Andrew George
was found beneath his aunt's fingernails. The people Mr A names
still live just a few miles from the spot where Hilda died. But the
names never formed part of the evidence put to the jury at Andrew
George's trial. Mr A has a new life now, his own criminal history
behind him, but this chapter he cannot close. I've never been able
to talk to anybody about this. I've had nightmares about it. It just
never, ever goes away. And if it's going to stay in the public eye and
it's going to stay where it is, I think the truth needs to come out.
A little earlier, I spoke by phone to barrister and legal campaigner
Michael Mansfield QC who's taken a close interest in the case. What
was his reaction to the day's developments? It is perfectly clear
others were involved in it. The jury at the trial were not made
aware of this, as far as I know. The other avenues are to ask the
judicial inquiry. It is in Andrew George's hands and he has showed no
inclination to reveal the truth. It is his own fault he will be in
prison. There are other ways the matter can be investigated without
his help. The major suspect in this are the security services. It seems
to me that it is time that there was an investigation into their
role in this matter. It is incredible that one should be asked
to believe that they had no knowledge or played no part or at
least deny it given Robert Green's position in the war and also won
campaigning against the nuclear industry.
In a statement, West Mercia Police tell us the allegations were fully
investigated during the original inquiry. They say any decision to
re-investigate the case would be made by the Criminal Case Review
Commission. Aston Villa could lose an estimated
�40 million pounds if they're relegated from the Premier League.
That's the stark reality for a club that's spent the last 24 years in
the top tier of English football. Last night, the Villa manager Alex
McLeish was on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse from fans after
they were beaten by Bolton at Villa Park. And the heated debate
continues. Ian Winter is live in the radio studios of BBC WM. Ian,
the fans are clearly very upset. The football phone-ins are always
feisty affairs on BBC WM. But tonight, sports editor Mark Regan
and his studio guest Richard Sneekes are very busy indeed. As
you can see, the switchboard is lit up like a Christmas tree. How busy
are you? We have had a record and out of course. And no wonder
because Aston Villa fans are worried. And that's because Aston
Villa fans fear the worst after last night's 2-1 home defeat by
last night's 2-1 home defeat by Bolton.
Feel the noise, taste the anger, touch the frustration. 30,000 Villa
fans let rip on the the final whistle. And their torrent of abuse
was aimed at one man. The man they'd never wanted as manager ten
months ago. The same man who's now three games away from relegation.
couldn't see it coming. I am ready shattered by the 7 1/2. A couple of
hours earlier. The April showers had captured the mood of the moment.
Dark clouds hovered above the ground. And outside the ground, a
quiet moment to reflect on the fanzine humour that keeps the
diehards coming back for more, to watch their Heroes and Villains
stumbling towards the worst home record in the club's history. But
record in the club's history. But the League table isn't upside down
and it could get even worse before the middle of May. Villa are now
just three points above the third relegation place, occupied by
Bolton who've got a game in hand. Bolton who've got a game in hand.
Yet, it could all have been so different. Villa played so well in
the first half without taking the lead they deserved. And they paid a
heavy price. Stephen Warnock's well-taken goal was the only
highlight for the home fans. But no-one guessed that within two
minutes 45 seconds of the ball hitting the back of the net, Villa
would concede a penalty converted by Martin Petrov... And then fall
apart at the back, to allow David Ngog to settle the match at 2-1.
Sheer agony for Alex McLeish. Unbelievable. I just couldn't
believe what happened to us. It was the worst nightmare. After a couple
of minutes of looking so comfortable in the game. It leaves
a bitter taste in your mouth, watching the game. It is a total
and utter shambles. No words can describe it, sorry. Can you believe
it? No, no. There is a good chance we can go. I can't see us getting
many points in the last three games. And those last three games start at
West Brom on Saturday followed by Spurs at home and Norwich away.
have nine points to play for. It is in our own hands. We need to go to
West Brom and get the points. the Villa fans fear time is almost
up for a team that's won only one of their last 13 games. And the
prospect of relegation from the Premier League is far too close for
comfort. Mark, sorry to interrupt. You're
now live on Midlands Today. What's the overriding emotion of your
the overriding emotion of your Aston Villa callers this evening?
They are pulling together. Last night, Alex McLeish had all sorts
of stick, particularly after the full-time whistle and we have had
many calls saying Aston Villa fans were discussed with the behaviour
of other fans. The defeat crystallised everything. Anyone who
has been bigger we are too good to go down, they've realised they
could go down. That is the overriding message. With a taste
dead than from the football club. They openly acknowledged the
frustration, and this is from the chairman and the chief-executive.
We continue to be in control of our own destiny, they said. Well that
as by the fans are you station tonight? I think it will. If you
asked me last night, I would have said it won't. I do think there is
any mileage in getting rid of the manager, they have to stick
together and get the point. Will they be in the Premier League next
season? Yes they were. The debate continues until 7pm on BBC WM
95.6FM. Still to come this evening: The
footballing nations who'll be fighting for Olympic gold in
Coventry in three months time check out what the stadium has to offer.
Well, let's hope it's stopped raining by then or else, we could
be breaking a few records of our own. The weekend's not looking too
promising either. For those of you with outdoor plans, I'll have the
Other news now. The company which runs Warwick Castle says it's
disappointed after being fined �350,000 and made to pay �145,000
in costs following the death of a visitor. George Townley from
Berkswell near Coventry died after falling 15 feet into a dry moat at
the castle in 2007. Merlin Attractions Limited was found
guilty of failing to protect the health and safety of visitors. It
says millions of visitors have used the bridge safely.
Protesters are tonight attempting to stop the building of a
superstore on the edge of a Shropshire market town. They
believe Newport town centre, boasting one of the widest high
streets in the country, would not survive. Supporters of the plan,
though, say it would be a shot in the arm for the local economy. Our
reporter Ben Godfrey is in Telford. Ben, there's a planning meeting
going on right now. Has there been a decision yet? The no decision yet
but as you can see, protesters are here and about 50 or 60 are already
inside. Standing room only really. This is why they're here. Newport
High Street, they say, it could be damaged by the building of an out-
of-town shopping centre by Sainsbury's, which could be built a
couple of miles south of Newport. Here are the details of the
superstore's plans which the councillors have been recommended
to approve. 50,000 scare -- 50,000 square feet of retail space.
Sainsbury's would be required to pay around �2 billion to fund local
amenities as part of this deal. Let's talk to one of the objectors.
Why are you opposed? This is neither needed nor wanted. This is
Eric councils strapped for cash which has been recommended to sell
greenfield space on the outskirts of Bath bodies hypermarket.
Sainsbury's says it is creating 400 jobs. A lot of people do go out of
town for their food. Three under and 50 of those jobs, low-paid,
minimum wage. -- 350 of those jobs. We don't need those kind of jobs
for the community and especially our young people. If you lose, you
have lost the battle of the High Street? No, we have lost one stage
of that. After that, we will be contacting Eric Pickles, Secretary
of State, and taking it to a national level. The meeting will
continue later. Telford officers and councillors have recommended
approval. They say a scheme like this wouldn't damage the vitality
of the High Street like Newport. The objectors think differently.
A former water mill dating back to Saxon times could become a source
of power once again with plans by a community co-operative to harness
the force of water to generate electricity. The mill could provide
the village of Neen Sollars in Shropshire with 20% of its needs.
The water from this river was first harnessed 1,000 years ago. This
mill was lasting news just before the First World War. Today, the
giant water wheel has gone and it has become a handsome family home.
Plans are afoot to bring it back to life. Basically, we are trying to
take the water power that is in this river, and you can see here
now it is flowing over the Weir, and converting it to electricity.
new automated sluice gate will be built and is that of a water wheel,
a modern turbine will be installed. It should generate a 12 1/2
kilowatts of energy. That is one 5th of the needs of the surrounding
village of Neen Sollars. What about the man who lives it? Have you feel
about your home being turned into a power station? It will be
remarkably in intrusive. Nevertheless, it is good, you know.
After 100 years, a mill that have packed up from grinding corn is now
going to turn itself into a rather more useful generation of power for
the present century. If this project comes to fruition, the
story of this mill will have come full circle with the fast-flowing
waters of the river once again being harnessed as a valuable
source of local power. To achieve that goal, the co-operative group
behind the project needs to raise �150,000. So far, they have 90,000.
If enough investors can be found to bridge the gap, this mill could be
up and running again as soon as this autumn as the wheels of
history go into reverse. It's perhaps the greatest love
story of all and Romeo and Juliet will be a cornerstone of the World
Shakespeare Festival in Stratford upon Avon. But audiences have seen
nothing quite like the latest production. Actors are using
experiences from their own country's troubled recent history
to help bring to life the bard's timeless tale of love and hate.
Joan Cummins reports now on the Iraqi Romeo and Juliet that will be
playing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
It's an image that went around the world when Saddam Hussain was
deposed by American forces in 2003. War and conflict have continued in
Iraq with thousands of lives affected by the turmoil. Now, the
background of strife between the Capulets and the Montagues has been
adapted to sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia. The play
has been commissioned for the World Shakespeare Festival and it's hoped
it will build help build bridges between the two cultures. It is a
really unique insight into a different culture and an
illumination of how important Shakespeare's plays are, have they
speak to different cultures. famous balcony scene doesn't appear
as you would expect it and there are many more dramatic changes. The
Iraqi theatre's version of Romeo and Juliet is performed in Arabic
with English subtitles. Gunfire and suicide bombers are ever present in
this classic love story set in Bagdad. But despite this, the
director insists the message is one of peace. We need to learn, to
teach our children have to love life, how to live life. I asked
visitors to the theatre if they thought the language barrier would
affect their enjoyment. I think other people should have the
pleasure of Shakespeare. Who owns Shakespeare is the question.
Everybody. The actors say they're honoured to be working in Stratford
and hope their interpretation will help Western audiences have a
clearer understanding of the reality of life in Bagdad.
Three months from today, the Olympics will kick off and Coventry
will be at the heart of the celebrations. Because two days
before the official Opening Ceremony, the women footballers of
Japan and Canada will get their games underway. And the organisers
are hoping the Olympic excitement that's starting to build will bring
a big crowd to watch them. Nick Clitheroe reports. This report
contains flash photography. It's finally starting to feel close
for Coventry. The official tournament ball is here and so too
are representatives of the teams who'll play in the city during the
Olympic Games. After yesterday's draw, we know that at least 16
different countries will be involved in games at the rebranded
City of Coventry Stadium. facilities are brilliant. This
stadium is nice and we went to the hotel before and everything looks
very good. We are very satisfied. The Canadian women will be the
first to play here against the world champions Japan. They have a
second match as well against South Africa. It is a beautiful place. I
love the intimate setting. It is a home away from home so we are
looking forward to the opportunity to play here and hopefully, we will
have a lot of eggs hatred Canadians and fans coming from London and we
will... Expats. Monday's test event at the stadium when Senegal beat
Oman to claim the final qualifying place was generally judged a
success although a few problems with security checks still need
attention. Coventry has been one of the better-selling football venues
but there are still tickets left so cue a Sky Blue star to bang the
drum. So, Dion, there are three big questions the public want answered.
1.5 million tickets go on sale in early May. We want all of those to
go, we want the stadium to be full. If you have a charge to his �10, --
who is 10, you pay �10, if it charges five, you pay �5. I think
it is a great idea. There are five double-headers. A game in the
afternoon, a game in the evening. You get to pay one fee and you get
to stay to watch two games. Everyone will be hoping for a big
improvement in the British weather. He won't be playing in the Olympics,
I don't think! Coal mining was once a way of life
in parts of the Midlands. Not any more. It's nearly 20 years since
three centuries of mining history came to an end in the Cannock
coalfields. But thanks to a campaign, many of the miners who
worked in the pits will now be remembered by future generations. A
memorial made up of more than 2,600 bricks, each bearing a miner's name,
will be dedicated this coming Miners preparing to descend the pit.
Once a common sight with 48 collieries scattered across Cannock
Chase employing tens of thousands. But scenes like this have long been
obliterated from the landscape. Mick Drury became a miner aged just
15. Now, his is one of hundreds of names inscribed on this brick
memorial at Hednesford in Staffordshire. Relatives have paid
up to �20 for each brick to remember a miner - living or dead.
I'm very privileged to have worked with these blokes. They were the
best set of blokes. This, to me, is great. I can look at blokes that I
have forgotten about. The bricks are the brainwave of Mike Mellor.
He promised his uncle he'd make sure the miners weren't forgotten.
On Saturday, generations of pitmen will be remembered when the
memorial is dedicated by the Bishop of Manchester. This memorial be
carried on because there are families involved. It is not just
the people whose names are on the bricks. They have families who have
children, grandchildren, and I am sure this will be a lasting memory
and will fulfil my promise to my uncle Horace to say that we will
remember the miners. More than 500 miners lose their job so much
growth --... Littleton Colliery was the last mine to close on the Chase
in 1993. This is what the site looks like today. A new housing
estate will be built here. Once, hundreds of miners worked here. At
least this epic -- brick memorial paid tribute to that legacy.
Well, it's a familiar story. You've been hearing it for the last week
and a half. A lot of wet weather and more of it to come. Rain and
showers - windy with it at times for the remainder of the week.
We've got a couple of yellow warnings for both tonight and
tomorrow of more heavy rain that could cause disruption due to some
localised flooding. A build-up of that surface water. Now, we've had
squally showers through the afternoon - they'll continue for a
time this evening. As the winds begin to ease, they'll turn into
slow-moving downpours, although the tendency for those begins to shift
to the North later in the night. And we're looking at temperatures
no lower than seven Celsius. But no sooner is the sun up, the showers
start germinating from the South. So, we'll see another rash of them
developing through the afternoon. They will be joining up to spell
longer spells of rain. They'll be slower moving because it won't be
as windy tomorrow. But any sunshine could trigger some hail or thunder.
Top temperatures tomorrow - 13 Celsius. More wet weather to come.
It really is like a conveyor belt of rain with the showers continuing
into tomorrow night, merging to form longer spells of rain in the
South. More heavy rain on Friday and Saturday. Thanks for that
drought update! A look at tonight's main headlines: Britain slips into
recession again - we're back where we were four years ago. The economy
shrunk over the last six months. It's officially a double dip
recession. And calls for the investigation