West's lawyer accuses media

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THE SOLICITOR representing Frederick West yesterday accused the media of 'lurid speculation' and 'copious and unrelenting publicity' about the police investigation of his client.

Howard Ogden warned newspaper editors that they would be taken to court for their publication of 'continuous and unrelenting' revelations about the private life of Mr West and his family.

Mr West, 52, appeared at Gloucester magistrates' court yesterday morning charged with eight counts of murder. Bail was refused and he was remanded in custody until 7 April.

In the past 17 days nine sets of human remains have been found at his house at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester. Police confirmed yesterday that the ninth set belonged to a female aged between 17 and 20.

The case has provoked intense national and international interest.

Mr Ogden said both he and Gloucestershire police had expressed their concern to Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General, who objected to the coverage in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Mr Ogden told reporters: 'Editors are under a legal obligation not to publish material which gives rise to substantial risk of serious prejudice in these proceedings. It is intended that appropriate legal action will be taken against those responsible.' The chief constable of Gloucestershire, Tony Butler, issued a similar warning.

Mr Ogden said: 'The barrage of publicity . . . is a gross intrusion into the private lives of my client's family . . . . I should not have to remind anyone that Mr West is innocent until proven guilty as charged.' The 'irresponsible' reporting amounted to mental cruelty to the West family.

Since Mr West was charged with the murder of his 16-year-old daughter, Heather, on 28 February, police have given regular press conferences about the inquiry. But Mr Ogden said the force had been 'properly circumspect'.