Police to begin fresh search for body of Muriel McKay - 54 years after kidnap and murder

16 May 2024, 13:35 | Updated: 16 May 2024, 13:37

Police to begin fresh search for body of Muriel McKay - 54 years after kidnap and murder
Police to begin fresh search for body of Muriel McKay - 54 years after kidnap and murder. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Police have launched a fresh search for the remains of Muriel McKay, 54 years after her kidnap and murder.

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Ms McKay, 55, the Australian-born wife of News Of The World executive Alcik McKay was kidnapped from her Wimbledon home in December 1969 and held ransom for £1 million.

She had been mistaken for Anna Murdoch, the then-wife of media baron Rupert Murdoch - whom Mr McKay was deputy to at the time.

Ms McKay's kidnapping was traced to Stocking Farm near Bishop's Stortford and brothers Arthur and Nizamodeen Hosein were convicted of her kidnap and murder in 1970. However, her remains have never been found.

Detectives investigating the kidnap and murder will now carry out new searches of a Hertfordshire farm, the Metropolitan Police said, after they identified other areas of the site worth searching.

Scotland Yard launch search for Muriel McKay after she vanished from her home in Arthur Road, Wimbledon, December 1969
Scotland Yard launch search for Muriel McKay after she vanished from her home in Arthur Road, Wimbledon, December 1969. Picture: Alamy

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The farm has been searched several times since the murder - most recently in 2022, when 30 police officers, ground penetrating radar and specialist forensic archaeologists trawled the site, but nothing new was found.

Arthur died in prison in 2009, while Nizamodeen was deported to Trinidad and Tobago after serving his sentence.

Ms McKay's family were provided new information by Nizamodeen in December last year about the possible whereabouts of her remains and even visited him in Trinidad. The family shared the information they gathered, including footage, with the Metropolitan Police investigation team.

The decision to search the farm again was made after the investigation team visited Hosein to speak to him in person and interviewed him over three days following his offer to show her family where she was buried.

Commander Steve Clayman said that while they have concerns about inconsistencies in his account, officers will search an area where a manure heap once stood.

He said: "I'd like to thank Muriel's family for their patience while we have taken time to really carefully consider all the information gathered in relation to this case. I know it has been a frustrating time for them.

"We have decided we will carry out a further search at the Hertfordshire farm where it is believed Muriel's remains may be. We carried out an extensive search there in spring 2022 but unfortunately it was unsuccessful.

"Our recent inquiries mean other areas have been highlighted as being of potential interest and it is these we will search.

"The main area is where a manure heap once stood - we know now this was probably larger than we previously thought and therefore that area was not entirely searched in 2022.

"While we have concerns about inconsistences in the account provided by Nizamodeen Hosein, for completeness, we want to do this.

"At this stage we have not set a date for the search to begin, but will keep Muriel's family updated and informed.

"The owners of the farm are fully aware and supportive and we thank them for their continuing help and co-operation.

"We all share a hope and desire to find Muriel's remains and bring some closure to her family after all these years.

"We sincerely hope the search is successful. However, we have informed the family that if Muriel's remains are sadly not found, it would not be proportionate to carry out any further searches or investigations."

Hosein, aged 22
Hosein, aged 22. Picture: Alamy

The current owners of the farm have also released a statement confirming that "no further on our land will happen" after the next scheduled search.

The statement read: “Our position has been consistent from the very first request of the family of the late Mrs McKay for a dig at our home.

“We have always said that this is a police matter – they are the experts in investigating evidence and determining its credibility.

“We have at all times provided the police with access to our land and granted permission to dig when requested by them, including when we have not been obliged to do so.

“We agreed to support the decision of the police, whatever it was. They have now made their decision, which we respect, although we understand from the police that this was a finely judged call considering the unreliability of the evidence provided by the murderer.

“In fact, the evidence is insufficient for the police to apply for search warrant. It now means that once this dig is concluded there will be a close to the debate and that no further searches on our land will happen.”

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