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Man arrested over murder of campaigner

PUBLISHED: 07:34 07 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 March 2010

POLICE have arrested a man on suspicion of murdering an anti-Sizewell B campaigner almost 20 years ago.

A man is being detained at an unnamed police station in connection with the murder of an elderly peace campaigner Hilda Murrell in Shropshire in 1984.

POLICE have arrested a man on suspicion of murdering an anti-Sizewell B campaigner almost 20 years ago.

A man is being detained at an unnamed police station in connection with the murder of an elderly peace campaigner Hilda Murrell in Shropshire in 1984.

The partly-clothed body of the spinster was found in March 1984 in a wood six miles from her home in Shrewsbury. She had been stabbed and left to die from hypothermia.

A West Mercia Police spokesman said yesterday's arrest was the culmination of investigations started 19 years ago and included a case review begun in April 2002.

The pensioner's body was discovered in a coppice on the morning of March 24, 1984, six miles from her home where she lived alone.

The cause of death was determined as hypothermia following a serious assault – but the circumstances surrounding Miss Murrell's death had led to speculation she might have been killed by the security services.

Her house had been broken into and it was suggested an intruder or intruders might have been looking for classified information which her nephew, a naval intelligence officer during the Falklands War, might have left there.

It was also suggested a motive for her murder might have been to prevent Miss Murrell from presenting evidence at the Sizewell B inquiry.

A man from Bedfordshire, who was a friend of the Murrell family, has claimed to have a copy of the report which Miss Murrell was due to present at the Government inquiry about the development of Sizewell B.

The report disputed Government information about contamination levels and the length of time the site would remain a no-go area after the closure of the plant.

Shortly before her death, Miss Murrell said: "The truth is that the area will remain contaminated for thousands of years."

In the report, which was never presented at the long-running inquiry held at Snape Maltings, scientific experts are quoted as raising major concerns about some of the materials intended to be used at the station.

Of particular concern was the use of the metallic element zirconium to coat the inside of the plant.

The metal is exceptionally corrosion-resistant, but is known to explode on contact with steam – and Sizewell B is a pressurised water reactor.

But police investigating the incident in 1984 and again in 1994 ruled out any security service involvement in the murder and said they were convinced Miss Murrell had been killed after disturbing an intruder at her home.

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