Rose West’s former solicitor has told of rumours that Fred West used the disappearance of Mary Bastholm as a bargaining chip for prison privileges.

Evidence of a body was recently discovered at a cafe in Gloucester which police believe to be linked to Mary Bastholm, who went missing in 1968.

Leo Goatley, solicitor and author of Understanding Fred and Rose West, told Sky News of the difficulty police had in distinguishing Fred’s fantasies from reality.

“One of the difficulties the police had was that Fred West was such a fantasist they had to try and work their way through the blatant lies and fantasies to get some of the facts and reality,” he said.

“He did at times make admissions but he certainly did not make an admission about Mary Bastholm.

“Although it is said that he told his son on a prison visit that he did kill Mary Bastholm and he would use it as a bargaining chip later on to get privileges whilst he was in prison.”

Mr Goatley said West may well have offered his services to the cafe while he worked doing odd jobs.

He told the programme: “There is a suggestion he was laying a floor there in 1968.

“I would think it very unlikely that Mary Bastholm was actually murdered or dismembered at the pop-in cafe.

“My concern is that she was abducted in a car, sexually abused and then killed and dismembered somewhere else.”

Fred West was a “fantasist” whose crimes are part of a “dreadful, wicked, murky episode” in Britain’s history, said Mr Goatley.