Fifty years on: do lost di­ary pages hold se­cret to Joe Or­ton mur­der?


Sunday Herald - - NEWS - BY MARK SMITH

THE sis­ter of mur­dered play­wright Joe Or­ton be­lieves a for­mer lover of her brother could hold the key to the killing and has ap­pealed to the mys­tery man to come for­ward.

She is also hope­ful that miss­ing pages from her brother’s diaries can still be found – and could ex­plain why he was killed.

Leonie Or­ton, the play­wright’s 72-yearold younger sis­ter, spoke ex­clu­sively to the Sunday Her­ald ahead of the 50th an­niver­sary of the death of her brother, pic­tured right with his lover Ken­neth Hal­li­well who killed him in their flat in Is­ling­ton in Lon­don. The story was later turned into the film Prick Up Your Ears star­ring Gary Old­man as Or­ton. At the time, Or­ton was hailed as the great­est new tal­ent in Bri­tish the­atre – with plays like What the But­ler Saw, Loot and En­ter­tain­ing Mr Sloane. But on August 9, 1967, he was beaten to death with a ham- mer by Hal­li­well, who then com­mit­ted sui­cide by tak­ing sleep­ing tablets.

Leonie Or­ton, who is ap­pear­ing at the Ed­in­burgh Book Fes­ti­val, be­lieves the miss­ing pages cover the last few days of her brother’s life and that they could ex­plain ex­actly why Hal­li­well snapped when he did.

In an in­ter­view in to­day’s Sunday Her­ald Life Magazine, Or­ton said: “I’ve been through the diaries and I’ve counted the days when Joe didn’t write any­thing, and he never missed more than a day writ­ing in his di­ary. There’s pages miss­ing – sure as birds can fly.”

She be­lieves the pages may con­tain in­for- ma­tion about a new lover – and that when Hal­li­well read them he erupted, rip­ping out the rel­e­vant pages and de­stroy­ing them.

But it is pos­si­ble, she says, that her brother’s agent, Peggy Ram­say, may have re­moved the pages, per­haps to pro­tect the iden­tity of a fa­mous man Joe was see­ing. Leonie Or­ton is at the Bosco The­atre, Ge­orge Street, Ed­in­burgh at 2.30pm on Tues­day, August 22

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