Police cleared in Fred West row

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The Attorney General yesterday delivered a renewed warning about the dangers of "chequebook journalism". Speaking at a conference of European chief justices and attorneys general in Athens, Sir Nicholas Lyell called on newspapers to show greater restraint in paying for background material about high-profile court cases.

Sir Nicholas said: "By signing a contract with a newspaper a witness may have an incentive to exaggerate." His warning came as the Police Complaints Authority cleared Gloucester police over claims that officers used the home of serial killers Frederick and Rosemary West as a brothel and drinking club.

The complaint arose out of a claim by Mrs Sharon Compton, friend of Alison Chambers - a victim of the Wests - in the Daily Express last November that police regularly visited the house in Cromwell Street, Gloucester, in the late 1970s when torture and murder victims were secretly buried in the cellar. The PCA said it could find no evidence to support the allegation made by the mother-of-two, who is now in her 30s.

Gloucestershire's Deputy Chief Constable, Mr Nigel Burgess, said talks were being held with the Crown Prosecution Service on possible action against Mrs Compton over information she gave to the Cromwell Street inquiry team and to the PCA investigation.