Four years ago the body of teenager Shafilea Ahmed was found - her parents spoke to Newsnight about her death.
Here is the report from 1 March 2004:
It's almost four weeks since the badly decomposed body of a young woman was discovered in the Lake District. Shafilea Ahmed, a teenager from Warrington had gone missing last year.
Her parents say they had not been trying to arrange a marriage for their daughter. However the police have suspected them of being involved in her disappearance, which they deny absolutely.
They and their lawyers claim that they have been treated differently just because they are an Asian family.
Our reporter, Zubeida Malik obtained the first interview with Shafilea's parents.
The familiar school picture of the
murdered and the disappeared. 17-
year-old Shafelia Ahmed's name has
been added to that sad list.
She was a very bubbly child, you
know, very talkative. Everybody you
will speak to loved her to bits.
The bright student, who was studying
A-levels and dreamed of being a
lawyer, was last seen alive by her
parents on September 11th last year,
after she returned home from a part-
time job. Her parents were arrested
on suspicion of abduction last year.
They are currently on police bail.
Shafelia's case came to national
attention when Cheshire Police held a
press conference, with Coronation
Street actress Shobna Gulati, in
December last year. Poetry and notes
that Shafelia had written, describing
her life, were read out.
I feel trapped. So stuck. I don't
know what to do with this feeling.
It's mutual, I don't know how to
explain. I'm trapped, so trapped.
The words reveal the angst of a
teenager, combined with that of a
young girl balancing her life between
east and west. Two themes of the
story emerge from the press
conference, the duality of Shafelia's
life, and questions as to whether her
family were trying to arrange her
marriage. But her father explains
that they knew of no clash. She liked
watching TV soaps, listening to her
favour singer, Beyonce, and they
accepted her wearing western clothes.
The family went to Pakistan for a
holiday, he says, because his
children hadn't seen the country for
ten years. While there, a distant
relative did ask if he was interested
in arranging his daughter's marriage.
We just went for a simple holiday.
While we were there, a family member,
a distant family member did ask us
for our daughter's hand, right. We
actually sat down, the daughter was
there, in front of us and we talked
about it. And the daughter said,
look, I'm not even ready for such a
thing, right. And I said to the
person, right, I said, this is the
situation. The children nowadays make
their own minds up. We, as parents,
obviously have got a duty to see that
their lives are brought up as normal.
And I said, I respect her wishes,
right. If she doesn't wish to marry
anybody, then that is totally her
wish. And we left it at that, right,
and it was never actually discussed
with the family since.
And you would never force your daughter to marry somebody against her wishes?
No, never. That question you can ask
me a thousand times, and the answer
will be exactly the same.
While on holiday, Shafelia drank
bleach. It's been speculated in the
media that she took this drastic
action to avoid a forced marriage.
Her parents deny that. Mr Ahmed says
he wasn't in Pakistan when it
happened, but his wife told him that
it was an accident.
What she said, and what the girl
actually said when we spoke to her as
well, right, was it was purely
accidental, right. She went into the
bathroom and the power cut, electric
went, and she picked the bottle up by
mistake instead of the mouthwash. She
picked the bleach bottle up and took
the sip of it. Obviously when she
realised, like, she threw up and
started to scream, come out the
bathroom, and straight away, right,
we called the taxi and took her to
the hospital. And she was in hospital
for, oh, three, three, four days
before they released her, right. They
turned around and said, just give her
ice cold things, right, and
everything should be normal. They
assured her of that, and that's why
we brought her back home.
Do you recognise the picture that's
been portrayed of you as strict
I'm not a strict parent in any way
whatsoever, right. I'm as English as
anybody can picture me, right. But
obviously the police portrayal of me
Did you ever mind Shafelia wearing
western clothes or listening to pop
music or doing things other teenagers
No, on the contrary. We actually
brought the clothes for her, right,
so why should we? The other girls
have got the same clothes as well. So
there's nothing not normal about it.
Their lawyer believes that the family
have been treated differently by the
police because of their ethnic
origin; that they have been
stereotyped in a particular way. At a
press conference last week, they
walked in to try and put their side
of the story.
We don't believe that we have been
treated fairly. And that's obviously
one's opinion, right, the way
everything has been put forward.
LAWYER FOR THE AHMED FAMILY:
I think the authorities have jumped
in very quickly, because this is an
Asian family, and they have drawn the
incorrect inferences, as a result of
which they have taken action they
otherwise would not have taken when
they took it.
It's an accusation that the police
DS JOHN ARMSTRONG
We have not been guilty of racial
stereotyping. We have understood from
the outset there are some
sensitivities surrounding the
investigation into the disappearance
of Asian girls. We have worked very
hard with the local community, we
have worked with the wider Asian
community, we have engaged experts,
people who have got a great deal of
experience in helping police with
this sort of inquiry. There are
people on a national basis we have
consulted. We followed many lines of
inquiry, and all our inquiries are
intent on focusing us on what's
actually happened to Shafelia.
Everyone's worst fears were confirmed
when a body found near the River Kent
at Sedgwick in Cumbria was identified
as that of Shafelia. But questions
have been raised as to why the
parents didn't report their daughter
missing. It was teachers at her old
school who got in touch with the
Well, I just waited until Monday,
right. If she hadn't turned up in
school, and which she hadn't done,
and on Tuesday morning, right, then
we would have made the effort to go
tell the police and then go looking
for her then. Obviously we start to
get worried about it. Because we
assumed automatically that she's gone
with somebody that she knows.
Your daughter had been missing for a
few days, nearly up to a week. Why
had you, as parents, not reported her
missing to the police?
The reason being, right, because we
assumed that she's obviously gone
with her friends, or a boyfriend,
possibly. But that's one of the
reasons, right, we thought, well,
we'll give it a couple of days, see
if she turns up in school, and then
try and solve the matter.
The family says Shafelia had run away
from home before. Mr Ahmed says when
he got in touch with the police on a
previous occasion, his concern wasn't
addressed properly. One of the few
visible reminders of their daughter
in the house are cards of sympathy
from friends and family. Most of
Shafelia's belongings from the house
have been removed by the police.
Family pictures and photo albums have
also been taken for examination. The
parents remain under police
investigation. But they stress that
they don't know what happened to
I can't really speculate on that
matter, right, because we never
actually expected anything of such
nature. I mean, we just wish for
somebody could tell us what happened
to her. We appeal to the public, if
anybody knows anything, to come
This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.