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Page last updated at 07:09 GMT, Tuesday, 5 September 2006 08:09 UK

Jill Dando's murder: The new evidence

Barry George, convicted of Jill Dando's murder
Barry George has always denied he murdered Miss Dando

The BBC's Panorama team has forensic analysis which questions the only piece of scientific evidence against the man jailed for murdering Jill Dando.

Firearms residue expert Professor Marco Morin says the single particle taken from Barry George's coat may not have even come from a gun.

He says it should not have been introduced as evidence.

George was convicted two years after ex-BBC presenter Jill Dando was shot once in the head in 1999.

A juror has spoken publicly for the first time of her feelings about the guilty verdict reached in July 2001.

Juror Janet Herbert says: "I just felt shocked that on that little evidence anybody could be locked away for the rest of their life."

The jury was put up in a hotel during a weekend because the members were unable to reach a verdict.

A second juror who wished to remain anonymous says that some of the deadlocked jury talked about the case at the hotel.

'Excluded from discussions'

This was specifically against the judges instructions.

These instructions are meant to stop subcommittees forming cliques that could influence the final decision.

Janet Herbert felt excluded from these discussions.

Reporter Raphael Rowe investigates whether there is new relevant evidence the jury should have heard. He had exclusive access to case documents and exhibits.

Barry George's coat was found a year after the BBC presenter's death and was taken from its evidence bag and photographed at a police station before it was examined by forensic scientists.

A witness, a retired reverend, claims that he saw police entering George's flat with guns when they took the coat away but this has been denied by the police.

Barry George, convicted of Jill Dando's murder

This may have contaminated the scene.

Professor Morin suggests that the particle may have come from an incinerator burning paint or from somebody arc welding.

Panorama finds out that the jury members were never given information explaining why Barry George was desperate to establish an alibi for the time Jill Dando was shot dead in the head on the doorstep of her home in London in 1999.

George had been questioned about the Rachel Nickell murder on Wimbledon Common in 1992.

He had nothing to do with that murder but he was afraid that he would be questioned again. Trying to establish the alibi made him look highly suspicious.

One witness, Susan Bicknell, tells the programme that she could provide George with an alibi but she suffered a nervous breakdown after the trial and fears her illness made her a poor witness when she took the stand.

Contrary to the media coverage and prosecution case that George was obsessed with Jill Dando, there were only eight newspaper articles about her found in the stack of 800 newspapers in George's house.

Case reviewed

None of the stories about her had been highlighted or clipped out or stuck on a wall.

A friend says that George never spoke about Jill Dando until after her death.

For the past two years, the Criminal Cases Review Commission has carried out a review of the case.

It says this has involved commissioning forensic tests and interviewing a number of witnesses and expects to make a decision about whether to refer it to the Court of Appeal "in the near future."

George lost an appeal in 2002 and remains in jail.

Panorama will submit its evidence to the commission.

On Tuesday, a Metropolitan Police spokesman told BBC News: "This case was thoroughly investigated and the evidence put before a jury, who convicted Barry George.

"A number of other matters were also raised before the Court of Appeal, which upheld the jury's decision.

"This case is now under review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, to whom the Metropolitan Police Service continues to lend its fullest support.

"Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Jill Dando."

Some of your comments

Michael Smith, SheffieldIf Barry George is innocent, the justice system's eagerness to convict means that the real perpetrator is now long gone, and that the tax payer will have to compensate Barry George for the bungled investigation.

Nancy Stanley, LondonI thought the programme was excellent, also only someone with Raphael Rowe's background could provide the insight and knowledge of the issues highlighted with the case. I thought the coverage was impartial and first class. Well done to everyone involved in the making of this programme!

Ewa Piotrowska, LondonLast night's Panorama showed clearly and impartially new evidence in the case of Jill Dando's murder. I feel fully convinced by the programme that the case should be reviewed again. Also, It has been a long time since I have seen such an impartial and faithul presentation of a very sensitive subject.

Tony, OxfordI cannot believe that the bbc wasted licenece payers money on this "so called" investigation. It produced no new evidence, just went over old claims and evidence that had already been heard by a jury (10 of whose members found the evidence sufficient to decide that guilt was proven "beyond reasonable doubt"). As the case is also currently being reviewed, this programme was ill conceived and should never have even been considered let alone broadcast.

Chris Hogg, Ashton, Helston, CornwallWhilst the Italian firearms expert suggested that such a particle could have come from a number of sources other than a firearm (he mentioned paint), I felt that an obvious source was not mentioned. That source is a firework or other pyrotechnic device. Aluminium powder is used in fireworks to give brilliant light, and barium is used to provide green colouration. The spherical shape of the particle would suggest it had been exposed to a high temperature, causing it to melt and become spherical, also consistent with a firework being the source. A heavy overcoat is just the sort of thing one would wear to a firework display on a chilly winter's evening.

Alex McEwan, SandhurstSomething occurred to me watching the show that seemed an obvious question to ask, but no one mentioned it so presumably it had been checked. It concerned the firearm discharge residue evidence, and how residue could easily be transferred from one person or place to another. A number of possible explanations for the residue in Barry George┐s coat pocket were suggested. It also mentioned that George had made a number of visits to a gun club seeking membership. Did anyone ever check if he wore the coat in question on any of those visits, where presumably he would have shaken hands with people who had discharged firearms?

Philip Burton, BristolIf Barry George is found to be innocent, then it will be a waste of another life in addition to that of Jill Dando and the killer may still be at large? Are we any the wiser?

Paul Dayton, LondonThe press were right to lambast this film - particularly in that it expensively revealed almost nothing new.

Eugen Slichter, ManchesterPrograms like this usually explore other suspects but there was none of this. I don't recall much discussion of motive either. I guess that wasn't the point of the doc tho.

Eric Wyn Roberts , Pwllheli, North Wales The public have a right to take a impartial view on this documentary but we are no nearer the truth of who actually pulled the trigger are we?

Will, UKAn excellent documentary. Its terrifying how little evidence Barry George was convicted by. Surely the case needs to be looked at again.

Nick Burdett, Melton MowbrayJill Dando story, 'particle' one source for this particle, high in lead, barium & aluminium could be burning PVC, which contains all of these.

Dan Fredenburgh, UKI felt I had to send an e-mail re this evening's Panorama on the murder of Jill Dando. Raphael Rowes report was outstanding. It was compelling, disturbing, and incredibly thorough.

Jacqueline Blake, AberdareAn interesting programme raising issues I was not aware of. The reporter Raphael Rowe was very good and impartial. Panorama at its best.

Jill Dando's Murder: The New Evidence was on BBC One on September 5 2006.



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