Fred West interviews to be broadcast

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The Independent Online

Serial killer Fred West's police interviews are to be broadcast for the first time after Gloucestershire Police failed in their bid to have them banned, it emerged on Friday.

Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, has dismissed a request by the force to prevent screening of the taped interviews on a Channel 5 documentary, due to be shown in the autumn.

It is understood that the interviews will form part of a programme that will criticise the police for failing to investigate fully claims that West committed more murders than the 12 for which he was charged.

The force has repeatedly dismissed similar allegations in the past.

A spokesman for Lord Goldsmith told PA News today: "Gloucestershire Police Force asked the Attorney General whether he would intervene and stop the programme. He said no."

The spokesman said the decision had been made "in the past couple of weeks" but refused to elaborate any further.

West was charged with 12 murders, including those of his first wife and eldest daughter.

He committed suicide in prison on New Year's Day 1995.

His wife Rosemary is serving life for the murders of 10 women and girls, whose bodies were found at their former homes in Gloucester. She was convicted at Winchester Crown Court in November 1995 and is serving her 10 life sentences in Durham Prison.

No–one at Channel 5 or Gloucestershire Police was available for comment.

Plans to make a TV documentary about Fred West's crimes sparked outrage from politicians, victim's relatives and police when details about the show first emerged in 1998.

Geoffrey Wansell, author of the biography An Evil Love, about the Wests, condemned the programme for the danger that it might glamorise Fred West and encourage copycat crimes.

"I have heard every police interview, I know all the material," he said.

"He was genuinely evil, he was a monster. He was also incredibly engaging... a brilliant liar, he could charm the birds off the trees, he could tell you the moon was made of cheese.

"You are broadcasting what is almost certainly a pack of lies. We are in danger of glamorising a totally horrid individual.

"He turned everything he touched into the most gross sordid material.

"In a brief documentary you can only take a sliver and I don't think the piece represents West and the true manner of his crimes.

"You cannot broadcast the real material even if you played it at 1 am it would be unacceptable.

"You have this little chirpy Hereford­Gloucestershire accent describing how he cut up his daughter in the most minute detail.

"There's no way you can play that, what you are going to play is anodyne and in danger of glamorising the monster."

He said that he, along with everyone involved in the West case, had no doubt that there had been more than 12 murders, but that finding any more bodies would involve digging up half of Gloucestershire, and still not being certain of finding them.

He was worried the tapes might encourage copy­cat crimes.

"I hate the thought we could encourage anyone to copy his crimes," Mr Wansell said.

The humble home of Fred and Rose West in Gloucester's Cromwell Street was dubbed the "house of horrors" as nine bodies were unearthed from its garden, walls and cellar.

A tenth body, that of their eight­year­old daughter Charmaine, was dug up from the kitchen of West's previous home in Midland Road.

Police began digging in Cromwell Street in February 1994 in what was to turn into a 114­day operation which left many people sickened as more and more remains of mass murder victims were found.

There has always been speculation that West was also responsible for other deaths, including that of Mary Bastholm, aged 15, who disappeared in 1968 as she waited for a bus in Bristol Road, Gloucester.

Before Fred hanged himself, he told police there were other bodies.

Peter Bastholm, brother of Mary ­ whose body has never been found ­ said he had no objections to the programme. "I have no objections whatsoever providing they do get the facts correct," he said.

Gloucestershire Chief Constable Tim Brain wrote to the Attorney General expressing concern about the material being used in a programme or series of programmes, which are due to be broadcast in late September or early October.

But Lord Goldsmith decided not to intervene after discussing the programme with film­makers.

A police spokesman said: "The programme has occurred independently of the police although initial discussions to obtain the co­operation of the constabulary did take place.

"So far the exact content is not yet known.

"Mr Brain requested the Attorney General look into possible contempt of court offences and breach of crown copyright.

Mr Brain said: "We are very disappointed in the decision but I have been advised that we have no legal redress.

"I shall continue to carefully monitor any requests made by programme­makers and will always endeavour to keep the best interests of the public protected.

"We are sensitive to the people who were involved in the West investigation, both families of victims and officers."

The tapes are thought to have been bought legitimately by TV makers from the Official Solicitor, who was given charge of West's estate after he hanged himself. They formed part of the prosecution evidence and include police interviews in the wake of the killings. The documentary is one of three being made about the evil killers.

A second programme is underway by the production company Brook Lapping using material "already in the public domain," police said.

In a third programme by the firm Darlowsmithson, police are collaborating to produce a two­part documentary about missing people for Channel Four.

A Channel 5 spokeswoman said today: "We are happy with the Attorney General's decision and we will be showing the documentary later this year.