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The first half of series 2 of Broadchurch has a major subplot involving a witness and a suspect from DI Hardy's previous murder investigation in Sandbrook: Claire Ashworth testified that her husband Lee had been with her the night of the murder, but later recanted this testimony to DI Hardy. She later tells DS Miller that she had been drugged by Lee, and does not know what he did.

Lee Ashworth has been out of the country, presumably lying low after being accused (and possibly tried unsuccessfully) as a suspect in Pippa's murder. Early in series 2, he:

arrives in Broadchurch and tries to convince DI Hardy to reopen the case and exonerate him. Claire appears initially terrified of him, but soon appears compelled to restart their relationship. DS Miller and DI Hardy become increasingly suspicious of Claire as her story of the night of the girls' disappearance keeps changing.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, this doesn't make sense to me in light of the last episode of series 2, where it is revealed that:

Lee Ashworth slept with Lisa Newberry on the night of the murders. When they were discovered by Lisa's uncle Ricky Gillespie, Ricky pushed Lisa onto the floor, causing her to strike her head and die. They were witnessed after the murder by Pippa Gillespie, who tells Claire what she saw. Claire gives her Ricky's hip flask containing rohypnol, a date-rape drug, then convinces Lee to smother her with a pillow to prevent her naming Lee as Lisa's murderer. Finally, Claire hides the flask to use against Ricky in case he decides to go to the police.

Given all that, why was Lee Ashworth trying to get DI Hardy to reopen the Sandbrooke case at the start of series 2? Or am I misinterpreting their conversation?

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To DI Hardy, the Sandbrook case never closed: he was convinced that Lee Ashworth was the killer and he was never going to stop pursuing him for the murder. The only way Lee could come back to the country safely was to somehow convince Hardy that he wasn't the killer.

The problem was that Claire by this point had turned on Lee and recanted her story as his alibi. He, however, knew that she was an accomplice to the murders and knew everything that had happened, so the longer time that passed the more likely it was she would admit the entire truth to Hardy.

Him coming back to Broadchurch had 2 motives. The first was to get Claire back, and get her away from Hardy, so that she wouldn't tell him what had happened. The second was to push Hardy's suspicions somewhere else.

This is why he told Hardy to look into other suspects. He knew that Ricky had actually killed Lisa, so he tried to push him to investigate him further.

However he couldn't come out and say that he definitely knew Ricky did it, as he would have to admit that he was there. I'm guessing that he was hoping if Hardy discovered that Lee didn't kill one of them, then he didn't kill the other one either (it was generally accepted that they were killed by the same person at this point).

However I'm not sure if his motivation for pursuing Claire was because he was actually still in love with her and wanted her back, or he just wanted her back on his side so she wouldn't confess their crimes.

  • Nice! Getting Claire away from Hardy is definitely an important goal for him, whether for love or security, and redirecting Hardy's attention could help with that. But Lee re-enters the UK without any problems: Hardy seems to be the only person interested in him. And I still don't see how telling Hardy about new information helps Lee: if he were to "catch" Ricky in some way, Ricky would immediately incriminate Lee and Claire. If the goal was to get Claire away from Hardy, couldn't he have focused exclusively on Claire and tried to lure her away? – Gaurav Oct 29 '17 at 1:59

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