Lawrence Williams

The Kidderminster journalist who broke the story of the 1975 kidnap of heiress Lesley Whittle by Black Panther Donald Neilson, has died aged 79.

Lawrence Hamilton Williams, always known as Bill, received a tip about the abduction of 17-year-old Lesley by the Bradford odd-job man, who also murdered three postmasters.

It was in the days before police and media combined for a voluntary news black-out and the story went out unchecked. This led to a change in police procedure to ensure a news black-out in such sensitive cases.

Whittle eventually died in a drain complex at Bathpool Park, Kidsgrove, north Staffs, and Neilson was convicted of her murder at Oxford Crown Court in 1976 and sentenced to life in prison.

Mr Williams, who started his career with the Kidderminster Shuttle, later worked as a district reporter for the Birmingham Post and Mail. After retirement, he freelanced in local magistrates courts and became a figure respected by the court staff and the Bench.

A bachelor, he devoted much time to promoting the welfare of former pupils of his old grammar school, King Charles I in Kidderminster. A modest man, he left instruction that there should be ‘no funeral, no flowers and no fuss”.

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