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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September 2003, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Shelley Jofre
Shelley Jofre
Shelley has reported on both of Panorama's reports on Seroxat
I started my working life in the BBC Scotland newsroom back in 1991.

After a few years of feeding the ever-hungry news machine, I decided that current affairs was where I really belonged.

I've always been pretty nosey and I've never been one to let something drop without a bit of a fuss. So, making half-hour films for Frontline Scotland seemed like the perfect place for me to cut my investigative teeth.

Paedophilia investigation

I was a reporter on Frontline for five years and, in that time my colleagues and I worked on some cracking stories. We went around the world, for example, investigating the case against the two Libyans who were then accused of the Lockerbie bombing.

A child molester befriended me and was later sentenced to 20 years in a Texan prison
Shelley Jofre

On another assignment, we travelled the length and breadth of Pakistan to track down two girls from Glasgow who had been abducted by their father and forced into marriage.

One producer even managed to persuade me to pretend on the internet to be a 13-year-old girl named JoJo in an investigation into paedophilia. It brought results worryingly quickly.

A child molester befriended me and was later sentenced to 20 years in a Texan prison. After making 50 programmes, though, it was time for a change.

I moved to Panorama three years ago and have been able to continue reporting on subjects that I hope have made a difference. I have revealed a catalogue of errors in Britain's oldest branch of forensic science, fingerprinting.

Seroxtat

Over the course of two years, in Finger of Suspicion then in Fingerprints on Trial, I followed the case of Bolton businessman, Alan McNamara, who was convicted of burglary on the basis of a single flawed fingerprint identification. He has since been granted leave to appeal against his conviction.

Shortly after we broadcast these claims the Medicines Regulator ruled that Seroxat should not be prescribed to under-18s
Shelley Jofre

In The Tranquilliser Trap, the team and I revealed that a million and a half people in Britain are hooked on prescription tranquillisers - a situation the government's Mental Health Csar admitted was a "disaster". The BBC Helpline took 14,000 calls after that programme.

The government is now reviewing the way tranquillisers are prescribed and is expected to put them in the same class as methadone.

More recently, though, we have discovered that history is repeating itself with the mass prescription of newer, supposedly non-addictive anti-depressants like Seroxat.

Over the course of two investigations, we have discovered that many people who took Seroxat in the belief they could stop the drug whenever they wanted have, in fact, become hooked on it.

Regulations changed

After the first programme was broadcast - and the drug's manufacturer read the 1,500 emails written by our viewers - the patient information leaflet was rewritten to drop the claim that "You cannot become addicted to Seroxat".

The Panorama website brings us so much feedback from viewers
Shelley Jofre

We also investigated claims that Seroxat could prompt disturbed behaviour and suicidal thoughts in some people who take it. In particular, we presented evidence that some children have become suicidal or self-harmed on the drug.

Shortly after we broadcast these claims the Medicines Regulator ruled that Seroxat should not be prescribed to under-18s. A special committee is currently examining all the safety concerns about Seroxat and other similar anti-depressants.

The work can be all-consuming but it's always rewarding, particularly now that the Panorama website brings us so much feedback from viewers. I spend my time away from work at home in Glasgow where I live with my husband.



SEE ALSO:
The Baby Business
27 Jun 03 |  Panorama
Seroxat: E-mails from the edge
28 Apr 03 |  Panorama
The Secrets of Seroxat
10 Oct 02 |  Panorama
Finger of Suspicion 8 July 2001
01 Jul 01 |  Panorama
The Tranquilliser Trap 13 May 2001
08 May 01 |  Tranquillisers
Young Robbers October 29 2000
24 Oct 00 |  Archive


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