LETTERS : Justice fails in West's suicide

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From Mr Gerald Isaaman Sir: The suicide of Frederick West, you declare in your editorial today ("West should not have died", 3 January), is bad for justice. But that statement begs the real question: Isn't justice itself to blame for his escape from the courtroom?

My concern is the delay in bringing this man to trial. Why has it taken so long if, as has been reported, he allegedly confessed to 12 murders and intended to plead guilty? He could have appeared in court long ago and been convicted, and justice would have been seen to have been done.

The obvious reason for any delay is that his wife has been charged as far as nine of the murders are concerned. Her innocence remains inviolate. Yet that also begs the question as to why they were jointly charged in the first place. For it may well have been appropriate for them to have been charged and tried separately given the latest statements of their solicitor.

What we do need to know now, in retrospect, is who took the decision to charge Mr and Mrs West jointly, and all the more so as doubt has been cast on Mrs West's current position and whether or not she can receive a fair trial in the light of all the worrying events of the past year.

In that, I include the continuing failures of both our judicial and penal systems, and the inability of the Home Secretary to accept responsibility for the blame and/or to solve the considerable problems that exist.

Yours sincerely, GERALD ISAAMAN London, NW3

3 January