Link to BBC Homepage

Front Page







World News in Audio

On Air


Talking Point


Low Graphics


Site Map

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

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage


Link to BBC Homepage

  Relevant Stories

25 Mar 98 | UK
Fred West 'admitted killing waitress'

  Internet Links

Gloucester Online

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online

UK Contents

Northern Ireland