Author(s): Robert Green
A Thorn in Their Side is Robert Green’s extraordinary pursuit of the truth about how and why his aunt Hilda Murrell, a noted English rose grower, met a violent and bizarre death.
In 1984, at the age of 78, Hilda Murrell was found brutally murdered in the Shropshire countryside. She had just gained approval to testify on the unsolved problems of radioactive waste at the first British planning inquiry into a new nuclear power plant. The police theory that a lone, panicking burglar robbed and abducted Hilda in her own car for petty cash erupted into a sensational political conspiracy involving PM Margaret Thatcher’s plans for British nuclear energy and the controversial sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano in the 1982 Falklands War. The West Mercia Police, accused of initial negligence, a bungled investigation and ignoring key evidence, took until 2005 to secure the conviction of Andrew George as Hilda’s unlikely murderer – in 1984 he was a 16-year-old truant from a local foster home who could not drive. The case has spawned numerous books, plays and TV programmes as it became one of the most baffling British murders of the 20th century.
Now Robert Green exposes the implausibility of the police theory; how key witnesses were leant on to change statements, and information suggesting political motives was dismissed. He has also uncovered explosive new evidence that George should have been acquitted. As the current British government presses to replace nuclear power plants and weapons, despite the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, this deeply disturbing saga about a distinguished British woman and law-abiding patriot is powerfully topical.
Robert Green served for twenty years in the Royal Navy from 1962-822. As a Fleet Air Arm observer/bomardier-navigator, he flew in Buccaneer nuclear strike aircraft and anti-submarine helicopters. Commander Green’s final appointment was as Staff Officer (Intelligence) to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet. He took voluntary redundancy in 1981 and was released after the 1982 Falklands War. The 1984 murder of his aunt Hilda Murrell led him to examine and then challenge the hazards of nuclear electricity generation – and nuclear weapons. He is now co-director, with his wife Dr Kate Dewes ONZM, of the Disarmament & Security Centre in New Zealand. His previous book, Security Without Nuclear Deterrence, was published in 2010.