Concern over media coverage

Rosemary West's solicitor insisted yesterday that the case against her was "even flimsier" following the apparent prison cell suicide of her husband, Frederick.

The judicial processes that were due to deliver the Wests to court in 36 days time to face an array of murder charges have been thrown into confusion by Frederick West's death.

In addition, the extensive media reporting of background material about West, and of the murders he was charged with, has, according to his solicitor Tony Miles, risked prejudicing the chances of a fair trial for Rosemary West.

Mr Miles said he was "appalled" by some of the newspaper coverage yesterday. "It raises fundamental questions as to whether somebody can have a fair trial in relation to matters of this nature when you're getting this sort of press coverage."

West and Mrs West were jointly accused on nine murder charges, with West alone facing a further three murder charges.

Leo Goatley, Mrs West's solicitor, indicated that at the committal proceedings due to begin on 6 February, he would be questioning whether Mrs West now had a case to face at all. However, the secretary of the Criminal Bar Association, Steven Kay QC, saidthere was no question that the Crown case against Mrs West would simply have been "tagged-on" to the case against her husband.

Mr Kay said : "We cannot speculate on the intricacies of the evidence the court may hear, but there will need to be a prima facie case against Mrs West alone for it to proceed."

He added: "We are talking about the highest levels of police investigation. So I doubt there will be need to reorganise the legal material."

Mrs West, 41, is currently on remand in the Pucklechurch Prison near Bristol. Mr Goatley said: "I have always felt the case against her was flimsy and it is flimsier now. Because they were jointly charged, everything that Fred has said would have come out in court."

According to Mr Goatley, during police interviews West had started out saying he knew nothing. But when confronted with the reality of what was buried at his home in Cromwell Street, he made a candid admission which included a statement that Rosemary West had nothing to do with it.

Mr Goatley added: "One would hope this will concentrate the stipendiary magistrate's mind on whether there is a case against Rosemary for her to answer in the Crown Court."

With some newspapers yesterday presenting the apparent suicide of West as the "Death of a Monster" and the "House of Horrors Monster Suicide", with pages of detail, there was growing concern the full media spotlight would now fall on Mrs West.

Mr Kay warned: "There are grave dangers that a fair trial could be prejudiced."

The Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary, Tony Butler, reiterated the warning given by the Attorney General at the start of the murder investigation last year. Mr Butler said he remained "very concerned that irresponsible reporting could jeopardise the prospects of Mrs Rosemary West receiving a fair trial".

Labour's home affairs spokes-man, Alun Michael, commenting on the media coverage, said: "There is a need for strong investigative journalism, but this is put at risk when strict guidelines are not observed."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders