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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK
Fred West interviews to be broadcast
Outside of 25 Cromwell Street
Police do not want interviews broadcast
Serial killer Fred West's police interviews, which may suggest he killed more women than previously thought, are to be broadcast for the first time.

But the ruling by the Attorney General to allow Channel 5 to broadcast the taped interviews as part of a documentary has angered Gloucestershire Police.

Emotions are still very raw in the county of Gloucestershire and beyond

Gloucestershire Chief Constable Tim Brain

It is understood that the interviews will form part of a programme that will criticise the police for failing to investigate fully claims that West committed more murders than the 12 for which he was charged.

The force has repeatedly dismissed similar allegations in the past.

Gloucestershire Chief Constable Tim Brain wrote to the Attorney General expressing concern about the material being used in a programme or series of programmes, due to be broadcast in the autumn.

On Friday Mr Brain appealed to programme makers to adopt a "sensitive" approach, following the decision of Lord Goldsmith not to intervene.

Mr Brain told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Emotions are still very raw in the county of Gloucestershire and beyond.

Fred West
The interviews have not been broadcast before

"For victims' families these are still very, very current memories for them and consequently we feel that somebody ought to speak up for them."

Mediawatch-uk, formerly known as the National Viewers and Listeners Association, wants Independent Television Commission (ITC) chairman Sir Robin Biggam to investigate how Channel 5 gained possession of the tapes.

Mediawatch-uk director John Beyer said the ITC should investigate whether the programme was in the public interest.

In a letter to Sir Robin, he said: "Given that these police interviews were never intended for transmitting on free to air television, I believe that it is appropriate for the ITC to fuly investigate how they were acquired by Channel 5 TV."

Life sentence

West committed suicide before his trial.

His wife Rosemary is serving life for the murders of 10 women and girls, whose bodies were found at their former homes in Gloucester.

West was charged with 12 murders, including those of his first wife and eldest daughter.

He committed suicide in prison on New Year's Day 1995.

Rose West was convicted at Winchester Crown Court in November 1995 and is serving her 10 life sentences in Durham prison.

The author of a biography about the Wests, An Evil Love, said on Friday he feared the programme could glamorise Fred West and encourage copycat crimes.

Geoffrey Wansell told BBC Radio 4: "I have heard every police interview, I know all the material.

"He was genuinely evil, he was a monster. He was also incredibly engaging ... a brilliant liar, he could charm the birds off the trees.

We are in danger of glamorising a totally horrid individual

West biographer Geoffrey Wansell

"You are broadcasting what is almost certainly a pack of lies. We are in danger of glamorising a totally horrid individual.

A Channel 5 spokeswoman said on Friday that the channel was happy with the Attorney General's decision.

"I cannot confirm any details at all about what is going in the documentary," she added.

Past petition

Objectors to the plans to broadcast the controversial programme handed in a 5,000-signature petition to TV producers two years ago.

Mary Bastholm
Mary Bastholm: body never found
Fred West's daughter Anne-Marie Davis was among the families of victims and MPs who handed in the protest to bosses at Channel 5.

She said at the time: "I am absolutely outraged.

"I find it most distressing when these television companies try to boost their ratings on the back of so many families' grief."

One of the deaths most frequently attributed to West was that of 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, who disappeared in 1968 as she waited for a bus in Gloucester.

Her body has never been found.

Her brother, Peter Bastholm, said: "I have no objections whatsoever providing they do get the facts correct."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Branwen Jefferys
"Plans to use the recordings have been widely condemned"
Tim Brain, chief constable of Gloucestershire
"The courses of action that open to me have been closed"
Fred West's biographer Geoffrey Wansell
"You couldn't possibly broadcast the worst of his admissions"
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