14 March 2010
Janet has answered every question I have asked her – to the best of her knowledge. But there are a lot of questions I don’t have answers to – such as why Fred’s body was never found and did he really commit suicide? I decide that the best way to approach this is to submit a Freedom of Information request to Derbyshire Police.
Freedom of Information
14 March 2010
My name is Helen Parker; I am a freelance writer and I am researching and writing the history of Ball Beard Farm at New Mills, High Peak, Derbyshire, for the current owner, Janet Holt.
In the course of our discussions I have been informed of the disappearance from Ball Beard Farm in 1976 of Janet’s business partner, Fred Handford and with Janet’s knowledge I am now requesting further information under the Freedom of Information Act.
I have spoken recently to DCI Sam Slack of Buxton CID who has told me that Mr. Handford’s file is in his possession at the moment. I understand that Fred Handford was reported missing on 19 March 1976 and I also know that this was not a criminal investigation. Janet tells me that there was certain information that led the police to suspect that Fred may have taken his own life. For the purposes of my research could you please provide the following information:
Although Fred was reported missing on 19 March 1976 is it possible that he went missing before then? What evidence – other than the date that Janet visited the farm and reported him missing – is there that he actually went missing on that specific date?
Was there any evidence found indicating that Fred intended to kill himself? DCI Slack mentioned that Fred’s dog was locked in the farmhouse, a dog that would normally follow him everywhere. Were there any other indications?
What was Fred’s state of mind before he disappeared? Was he depressed or otherwise affected?
DCI Slack says one mine shaft in particular was mentioned as the possible site of Mr. Handford’s suicide. Who told the police this and do you know why this particular site was significant?
Who was interviewed in relation to his disappearance? Janet cannot remember much of what she was asked; she may possibly have been too distressed at the time. What questions was she asked and what did she reply?
Was there a suicide note or any other communication left by Fred?
Did anyone questioned by Derbyshire Police give any reason for Fred to take his own life?
Who was Fred’s next of kin? (Janet informs me it was almost certainly his daughter, Katrina. Could you confirm this?)
What is the procedure when there is no body found but a death is presumed? Does the coroner get involved? I understand that the Grant of Letters of Administration was issued in 1980, before seven years had elapsed. Why was this?
If there is no body found but a presumption of suicide why is the case not ‘closed’.
Has Derbyshire Police ever been approached by anyone with a suggestion that Fred did not commit suicide but that he died by other means?
I would be very grateful to receive answers to any or all of the questions above and in any form that Derbyshire Police would prefer. I can be contacted at any time on 07834 7***** or via email.
Thank you in anticipation