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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK


BBC newsman reveals death threat

John Humphrys presents Radio 4's Today programme

BBC journalist John Humphrys has been the subject of death threats, it has been revealed.

John Humphrys with Allan Little on BBC Radio 4's Today: "I'm not sure how seriously you take these things"
Following the shooting of BBC colleague Jill Dando, Mr Humphrys, who presents BBC Radio 4's Today programme, received a threatening message from someone apparently claiming to be a Serb.

There has been speculation that the murder of Jill Dando was related to her work in promoting a TV appeal for Kosovan refugees - although police are stressing there is no evidence to support this.

[ image: Alan Yentob is also believed to have received threats]
Alan Yentob is also believed to have received threats
On Thursday, it emerged that Ms Dando received a letter from a "Serb source" two weeks before her death, attacking her appearance in the televised charity appeal. The letter did not contain a death threat.

BBC head of news Tony Hall is said to be under police protection after a man claiming to be a Serb threatened his life in a telephone call to the corporation switchboard on Tuesday morning, the day after Miss Dando was shot dead.

On Friday former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell cancelled an engagement because of an anonymous death threat. It is believed that BBC Director of Television Alan Yentob was also sent a threat.

Interviewed on Friday on the Today programme by co-presenter Allan Little, Mr Humphrys said he did not know where the threat against him had originated.

"No, I don't have the first idea. In fact I knew nothing about it until the police contacted me yesterday afternoon and told me that it had happened," said Mr Humphrys.

"Apparently it arrived somewhere or other via a fax and a telephone call but where it has come from, why it has come, I don't know.

"I'm never sure how seriously you do take these things.

Hate mail from both sides

"Yes, I suppose that the point the police make is that you can't ignore these kinds of things because horrible things happen.

"We saw that so tragically earlier this week with poor Jill.

"If it is connected in any way at all with the Serb business, and one doesn't know, it is all rather sad.

"The problem is, I think, that people hear us doing interviews and they confuse our questions sometimes with our views.

"Of course if you are interviewing a government spokesman here, a minister here, you ask the difficult questions, if you are interviewing a Serbian spokesman you ask the difficult questions.

"But people don't always understand that that's your job and you are not necessarily expressing views on either side.

"The odd thing is I have had nasty letters from both pro-Serbs and anti-Serbs."

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