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Wednesday, May 20, 1998 Published at 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK



UK

Outrage over Fred West TV drama
image: [ Human remains were found at the Wests' former home in Gloucester ]
Human remains were found at the Wests' former home in Gloucester

Victims' relatives and politicians have criticised plans to make a television drama about the Fred West murders.


[ image: West: hanged himself in prison]
West: hanged himself in prison
Channel 5 is considering commissioning a four-part serial about Fred West and his wife Rose.

The drama, Conspiracy of Silence, would be made by Portman Entertainment who bought the film rights to Fred West's official biography and a raft of other archive material last year.

Sergeant Rod Dalley, of Gloucestershire police, said they had taken legal advice and been told there was nothing they could do to stop the film.

But he said: "This cannot be morally right." 'Disgusting and insensitive'

Gloucester's Labour MP, Tess Kingham, said: "It is grossly insensitive and disgusting to be making family entertainment out of something which caused so much misery."


[ image: Kingham:
Kingham: "Tasteless and insensitive"
Ms Kingham said she had spoken to several families of the victims who were "horrified" by the idea of the serial.

"We are going down a dangerous path when anything is considered good subject material. What next ? The Dunblane massacre ?"

Drama chiefs at Channel 5, which showed a made-for-TV film about the Michael Sams case on its opening night in April 1997, are waiting for a script from Portman.

If they like it, the series will be made early next year.

'Cashing in'

Peter Bastholm's sister Mary is believed to have been killed by Fred West in 1968. Her body has never been found.


[ image: Mary Bastholm: body never found]
Mary Bastholm: body never found
He said Portman and Channel 5 were "cashing in" on the tragedy.

Mr Bastholm said: "I would be very upset if they disfigured the facts or included any of the gory bits. It would be very harmful to the relatives of the victims."

Fred 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 of 10 murders at Winchester Crown Court in November 1995 and is serving life in Holloway prison in north London.


[ image: Rose West: serving 10 life sentences]
Rose West: serving 10 life sentences
'Huge public interest'

Channel 5 spokesman Greg Day denied the series would sensationalise the crimes, insisting it was not a ploy to boost ratings.

"We are aware that the key to understanding what happened at 25 Cromwell Street is understanding sexual abuse.

"A lot of it will be uncomfortable because it will deal with that but that is a valid part of the story which needs to be understood."

Home Secretary Jack Straw said he was looking at the issue as part of his review of new laws to stop criminals profiting from their crimes, launched in the wake of the book on child killer Mary Bell.
 





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