THE Glasgow-born serial killer nicknamed the mad butler, responsible for one of the most bizarre murder sprees of the last century, has died in prison.

Archibald Hall, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of four people - a fifth file was left open - in the 1970s, died in hospital in Portsmouth of natural causes at the age of 78. His victims included a former MP.

Hall's first victim, in 1975, was his former lover, David Wright, who was staying with him at the Dumfriesshire estate of Lady Margaret Hudson, where he was a butler.

Hall then moved to London where in 1977 he was employed by Walter Scott-Elliott, a former Labour MP and minister, and his wife Dorothy.

While in London, Hall was introduced to Michael Kitto, a small-time crook.

Hall took Kitto to his employer's Kensington flat and showed off goods he planned to steal, but they were disturbed by Mrs Scott-Elliott, whom they killed by smothering.

Hall then drugged Mr Scott-Elliott and later strangled him.

Hall later murdered Mary Coggle, an Irish prostitute, by smashing her skull with a poker while Kitto held her.

Hall's final victim was his half-brother, Donald Hall, whom the butler hated because he was a sex offender. Donald was subdued with chloroform and drowned in a bath.

The murderous pair were caught in a hotel in North Berwick, East Lothian, on their way to dispose of Donald's body, which had been hidden in the boot.

In 1978, Hall was given two life sentences for the murders of Wright and Walter Scott-Elliott and later two more for Coggle and his half-brother. The file on Mrs Scott-Elliott was left open.

At the time of the publication of his memoirs, A Perfect Gentleman, in 1999, Hall was reported as saying: ''Death will be my release.''