Appropriate Adult: the daughter and the solicitor

Fred West's daughter Mae West, and solicitor Howard Ogden talk about the controversial drama

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The Daughter – Mae West

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Fred West’s behaviour in public was very different to how he was in private; everyone who knew him liked him [Mae will no longer refer to him as Dad].

He didn’t seem like a threat because of his size, and the fact that he was uneducated and illiterate. He was what you’d call a jovial rogue… He was always making funny comments, didn’t seem to have much shame, but overall came across as fairly harmless.

He was a bit of a charmer with the ladies as well; he tried to come across as a gentleman. That punched through in the drama, too – like how he would always ask Janet if she was OK and the way he pulled out her chair before she sat down. How much of it was Fred West playing up to a role… and how much of it was real… I suppose we’ll never really know.

But there was another side to him, and every now and then something would trigger it. He’d have this cold, frightening look in his eyes that left you in no doubt that he could turn nasty. It was very scary, and I couldn’t believe how accurately Dominic managed to get that across.

If Dominic West was to walk into a room with my brother and sisters in, playing the role of Fred West, I’m sure most – if not all of them – would freeze for a moment.

Although, Dominic’s obviously a lot taller than he was, some of his mannerisms – like the way he walked, the way he hunched his shoulders; the way he rolled his cigarettes and the humble way he stared at the floor when talking to people in authority – were eerily familiar.

Of course, there are aspects of Dominic’s performance that were slightly different to Fred West – like for example, some of the words he used were different, but I know that was just to help get the story across.

The Solicitor – Howard Ogden

Being the defence solicitor in a murder case is always demanding – although it doesn’t usually involve washing the defendant’s underpants. But that’s what Fred West’s lawyer, Howard Ogden, did for his client when he was on remand.

“Nobody was tending to him,” says Ogden. “There was no prison officer, there were no regular checks. It was just basic humanity – he shouldn’t have to be in manky kit all the time. So I said, well I’ll take it to the laundrette.”

Ogden (now 57) still lives near Gloucester. He looks back on his few months defending West with detachment, though it wasn’t so easy at the time.

“We all went on an emotional journey. It was so horrific, and his delivery was so dispassionate, emotionless and matter-of-fact, that everybody was dazed.

You’ve got to be pretty together to cope mentally with what he’d done.”

Ogden refuses to condemn the drama, but does worry about the effect it might have on West’s victims.

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“Victims are forever overlooked and trampled over. I’m more concerned for their feelings than for mine.”