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West lawyer welcomes inquiry

THE FORMER solicitor of Frederick West, the builder accused of 12 murders, said yesterday that he welcomed a Law Society investigation of his conduct.

Howard Ogden has been accused of trying to sell the book and film rights of the West case for pounds 1m.

He issued a statement saying he was confident he would clear his name of all the allegations against him.

Claims that he was trying to sell the story first surfaced on Friday, prompting the Law Society to instruct the Solicitors' Complaints Bureau to start an investigation.

Mr Ogden, 40, said yesterday at his house in Cheltenham: 'I am confident I can clear my name because I have absolutely nothing to hide.'

On Friday a High Court judge ordered Mr Ogden to hand over all the papers and taped interviews with Mr West which were still in his possession. Mr Ogden said he welcomed the order because it relieved him of a professional difficulty in the case.

He said he had not handed over the material because, although Mr West, 52, had dismissed him as his lawyer, he continued to be registered as Mr West's solicitor in the Legal Aid records at Gloucester Magistrates' Court.

'There were difficulties of a professional nature which have precluded me forwarding the papers until now,' he said. 'Not least of these was the refusal of the clerk of the justices at Gloucester on 9 August to transfer the Legal Aid orders. This put me in a state of limbo in that although I did not have the benefit of Mr West's instructions I was still officially acting as far as the court was concerned.

'Accordingly, in order to preserve the confidentiality of Mr West, and for other professional reasons, I took the view that it was necessary for me to hold on to the papers.

'However, the effect of the injuction issued last Friday has been to release me from my professional concerns and of course I shall comply with it.' The injunction ordered Mr Ogden to hand over the material to the new solicitors - Bobbetts Mackan, of Bristol - by tomorrow.