Channel 4 is to screen a documentary tonight investigating rumours of a serial killer dubbed ‘The Pusher’ operating on Manchester’s waterways.
The claim caused uproar when it was published in the Manchester Evening News in January 2015, sparking a social media frenzy.
Professor Craig Jackson, head of pyschology at Birmingham City University, suggested that the number of bodies pulled from water over the past seven years could be down to foul play.
Jackson later retracted his claim saying that he had been misquoted and his words taken out of context.
Of the 85 bodies recovered from canals, rivers, lakes and ponds between 2008 and 2014, eight were in Salford, with the majority in Manchester city centre.
Today police also released a video rubbishing the claims as “a myth”.
The force clarified: “In December 2014 police provided figures for the number of water-related deaths to a journalist for 2008 to 2014.
“They were presented to a professor, who was led to believe the figures represented deaths in the city centre, rather than in the whole of Greater Manchester.”
Detective Superintendent Pete Marsh, of Greater Manchester Police’s Major Incident Team, said: “Each death has been fully investigated from the outset.
“We deal with death whether it be an accident, a drugs overdose, in much the same way.
“The purpose of our investigation is find out if there is anything criminal happened to that individual. Have they been pushed? Have they been assaulted?
“Some of these have been as a result of people being pushed and robbed, and people have been arrested, and prosecuted.”
“There is no evidence to indicate a killer, or ‘canal Pusher’, is responsible,” said GMP
“Those who have fallen in and either climbed out or been rescued have not reported anyone leading them to the water, and following them, or pushing them in.”
The documentary producers promise to meet the families of those who have died, “looking for answers, and the experts placing pressure on authorities to open an investigation.”
Student Souvik Pal was found dead in the Bridgewater Canal, just 100 yards from the Victoria Warehouse, where he had spent the night at a dance event on New Years Eve 2012.
The 18-year-old had been thrown out of the club and was spotted on CCTV walking away from the venue with an unknown man.
Just hours later he was dead.
His father, Santanu, told documentary producers that his son could be a victim of ‘The Pusher’.
Despite a police campaign for answers, no-one was ever charged in connection with his death.
Mr Pal said: “It needs to be investigated to find out if there is really a serial killer in this case.”
“This is upsetting for the families of those people that have died,” said Superintendent Marsh.
“They’ve gone through the inquest process. What the coroners have said that if anyone has any evidence of anyone that has died by criminal means they should bring it back to the police and it will be re-investigated.
“We have a very, very high detection rate for murders and manslaughters. If a person has pushed somebody into a canal and we’ve been able to investigate it, that person has been traced, they’ve been interviewed, and on one such occasion, CPS [the Crown Prosecution Service] has offered no charge because of the circumstances around it.
“There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support the story in the papers.”
The documentary, ‘Manchester’s Serial Killer?’ will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 11pm on Tuesday 19 January.
Main image: Det Supt Pete Marsh, Greater Manchester Police