Chester-based graphologist Diane Simpson spent hours  face to face with one of Britain’s most notorious  serial killers, the Yorkshire Ripper.

Earlier this month, reports circled that he  could soon launch a bid for freedom following  a landmark judgement that whole-life jail  terms were ‘inhuman’.

Reporter Ellie Cullen spoke to Diane to find out  her views on the ruling:

World-renowned graphologist Diane  Simpson says the Yorkshire Ripper will never  walk the streets again – despite a recent ruling that  condemning him to life in jail is ‘against his  human rights’.

Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper
Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper
 

Earlier this month, the European Court of Human  Rights ruled that giving convicted murderers no chance  of freedom amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment.

Their decision means whole-life sentences could now be  reviewed after 25 years, igniting fears that the UK’s most  dangerous criminals could soon be launching bids for  freedom.

Chester-based Diane, who earned the trust of one of the  most appalling predators in UK history and persuaded  him to confess to further crimes, admits to being ‘appalled and shocked’ when she first heard about the  judgement.

But she says she is still convinced Yorkshire Ripper  Peter Sutcliffe will never walk free.

“There’s no question in my mind that he will never be  released,” she said. “I can’t imagine what grounds he  would have to appeal for freedom.”

Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, Diane takes a  very relaxed view of the European court’s ruling, saying  reports in the media have been ‘greatly exaggerated’.

This from a woman who has repeatedly stared into the  eyes of a serial murderer.

“They’re not about to release these people,” she said.  “They’re going to review the evidence – and that’s  different.

“As a human being, knowing what I do with these cases,  of course they shouldn’t get out.

“But they can’t have one law for one criminal, and  another law for others.”

Peter Sutcliffe was given 20 life sentences for the  murder of 13 women – ‘heinous’ crimes, Diane says, that  went against the human rights of his victims.

But the handwriting expert still believes every prisoner  should have the right to have their cases reviewed.

She added: “Of course I believe in the rights of the  victims and the families. I’ve worked with some of the  victims and their voices should be heard.

“And I don’t think the prisoners who brought this  appeal to the European court who say it’s against their  human rights is anything we should listen to.

“But I do believe everyone should have the right of  appeal if new evidence is found.

“Peter Sutcliffe can appeal until his heart’s content but  he will never be free.”

Diane’s first contact with the dark world of Peter  Sutcliffe came when she worked with the Ripper police  squad during the original investigation.

Working from an office on Northgate Street, the experienced graphologist – a handwriting expert – was  called by West Yorkshire police after they were sent  ‘hoax’ letters and tapes claiming to be from the killer.

She studied the writing in the anonymous letters, as  well as the writing on the parcel that enclosed the  tapes.

The letters turned out to be a red-herring, allowing  Sutcliffe to continue his bloody killing spree.

The murderer was eventually caught in 1981.

“I remember he tried to plead guilty to manslaughter at  first,” said Diane.

“Thank goodness the judge didn’t accept that and he  was found guilty of murder.

“If they’d still allowed hanging he would have been  hanged.”

That was not the last Diane would see of Sutcliffe.

Their paths were to cross once again more than nine  years later when the Ripper invited her to visit him in  Broadmoor, a high security hospital.

“It came as a surprise,” said Diane. “I refused at  first.”

But six months later she was staring into his piercing  brown eyes.

Over the course of the next ten years, Diane spent 400  hours talking to Sutcliffe, a man she calls a ‘manipulative and prolific liar’.

She was instrumental in his confession over the  frenzied attack on 14-year-old schoolgirl Tracy Browne,  who survived five blows from Sutcliffe’s hammer.

Diane said: “He indicated there were crimes he’d  committed that he hadn’t yet confessed to. Eventually  he confessed to further attacks.

“It was a huge release. It finally gave people closure.”

Sutcliffe is one of just 49 killers in the UK serving  whole life tariffs. Others include Moors murderer Ian  Brady, Rosemary West and, more recently, Dale  Cregan.

Under current law, whole life tariff prisoners will  almost certainly never be released from prison because  their offences are deemed to be so grave.

They can be freed only on compassionate grounds by  the Justice Secretary if they are terminally ill or  seriously incapacitated.

But despite the new ruling from Europe, Diane does  not believe it will have any impact on Sutcliffe.

For him, she says, life really will mean life.