Murdoch, Murder & the Mare Street Connection

Muriel McKay

Rupert Murdoch was seen attending a film premiere at the Hackney Picturehouse, Mare Street, last month as part of the EEFF and one can only speculate, as to whether he recalled a grisly connection to the area.

On 29th December 1969, Arthur Hosein, 34, and his brother Nizamodeen (Nizam), 22, followed Murdoch’s Rolls Royce to a property in Wimbledon and abducted Muriel McKay, 55, in the mistaken belief that she was Murdoch’s then wife, Anna.

Tailor in Mare Street, Hackney

After arriving in England in 1955 from Trinidad, Arthur Hosein spent time in the army before deserting and being dishonourably discharged. Shortly afterwards he met a married woman, Elsa Fischer, ten years his senior, who ran a ladies hairdressers in Mare Street, Hackney, east London.

Mare Street tailor Arthur (l), Nizamodeen (r) Hosein

He impressed her with his dapper manner and boastful plans, and she divorced her husband and Hosein moved in building a successful tailoring business. By all accounts, the business thrived but Hosein had expensive tastes, liked to gamble and had aspirations to a grander life. In 1967 he moved from Hackney buying Rooks Farm in 1boasting that this was his “country estate’ — in reality, it was a rundown pig farm on the Essex/ Hertfordshire border, in urgent need of money.

Met Police: Have You Seen This Woman?

With growing financial difficulties, the brothers were also at odds with Nizamodeen effectively paid a labouring wage while his brother’s profligacy and delusions of grandeur were a source of tension. The need to make money and quickly became a pressing need, to make the dreams of riches in England come true. The answer came to them whilst watching David Frost interview the newspaper proprietor Rupert Murdoch, discussing the ethics of printing Christine Keeler’s memoirs.

Murdoch, Millions and the News of the World

Of more interest to the brothers was the talk of Murdoch’s personal wealth, the multi-millionaire, who spoke of huge sums to acquire the tabloid newspaper the News of the World (Murdoch has only recently acquired The Sun newspaper and was in the process of buying the News of the World). Murdoch also had a young wife, and the plot was hatched to kidnap and ransom her, believing that Murdoch would willingly part with some of his fortunes for her safe return.

As they quickly assembled their plan, mistakes were already being made. Unknown to the Hosein brothers, the Murdoch’s were in Australia and his car, a Rolls Royce, that they followed, had been lent to deputy chairman, Alick McKay. Yet rather than aborting their plan, the brothers took McKay’s wife Muriel telephoning McKay to say: “We are Mafia M3. We tried to get Rupert Murdoch’s wife. We couldn’t get her so we took yours instead. You have a million by Wednesday night or we will kill her.”

When the DSC in charge of the investigation was asked if it were genuine replied: “How do we know? We’ve never had one before.”

This was Britain’s first kidnap and ransom case and was to end in murder although McKay’s body never recovered. It was also the first time a recording of a phone call was sent to an acoustics laboratory for analysis to try and help identify the kidnappers.

Syndey Morning Herald report on court case

In February 1970, the Hosein brothers were arrested after Arthur Hosein’s car was seen driving past the ransom pickup point multiple times. Their farm was raided and fingerprints matched to the ransom note along with other incriminating evidence but there was no sign of Muriel McKay or her body, which has never been recovered. The suggestion, worthy of anything made up by the News of the World, was that she had been drugged and butchered and fed to the pigs on the farm.

At their trial in 1970, neither brother confessed but each blamed the other. Arthur claimed that on the day that he was supposed to be collecting the ransom he had been “ to take trousers to finishers in Shoreditch, Tottenham and Hackney Wick, East London”.

Newspaper report on the trial

Both of them received life sentences for the murder. Arthur and Nizamodeen received 25 years’ and 15 years’ respectively on the other charges of kidnapping and blackmail, Both were released after 20 years. The notoriety of this case was such that for a time waxworks of the brothers were displayed in Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors.

On 4th August 1971, the BBC (BBC Two) screened “Worse Than Murder” described as: “A special report by Tom Mangold on the kidnapping and murder of Mrs Muriel McKay. The first detailed film account of how ‘V’ Division and Scotland Yard broke the case. The detectives themselves re-enact the operation that led to the arrest and conviction of the Hosein brothers”. Among those taking part were Alick McKay and Mrs. Elsa Hosein. Directed by John Purdie. The film producer was Gordon Carr.

In 1992 “Gone Too Far The Mystery of Mrs. Muriel McKay” directed by Simon Massey and starring Jimmi Harksihin as Arthur Hosein(film producer Bill Jones) was made for Granada Television, Crime Series.

Hackney connections

A curious twist to the Hackney connection was that the Hosein’s were prosecuted for the Crown by Lord Rawlinson of Ewell, who served for a time as Solicitor General and Attorney General under three Conservative PMs. In 1951 Rawlinson had stood, somewhat optimistically, as the Conservative candidate for the Hackney South constituency.

“Convicting a murderer with no dead body”

“Worse Than Murder”

Alternative “24 Hours Worse Than Murder tx. BBC One, 21 April 1971 -

“Gone Too Far”