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Saturday, February 27, 1999 Published at 19:50 GMT


TV presenter off ventilator

Sheena McDonald: Hit by a police van on an emergency call

Broadcaster Sheena McDonald was showing some signs of improvement in hospital after being knocked unconscious by a police van on a 999 call.

Ms McDonald has been taken off a ventilator in intensive care and her condition remains stable.

Her partner, Allan Little, the BBC's Moscow correspondent, flew home from Russia on Sunday to join her family in a vigil by her bedside.

He returned when told of the accident on Friday night in Islington, north London, which left Ms McDonald with serious head injuries.

A spokesman at the University College Hospital in Euston, said: "Ms McDonald remains stable and is still in intensive care but she has been taken off the ventilator.

"She is now breathing on her own which is a marked improvement. It is impossible to say at the moment how long she will remain in intensive care," he added.

The van, which had its blue light flashing, was on its way to a reported fight in Holloway Road when it hit Ms McDonald in St John's Street, Clerkenwell, at 2347 GMT.

Chancellor being kept informed

Chancellor Gordon Brown is among those anxious for news of her progress. The award-winning journalist struck up a relationship with Mr Brown in Edinburgh in 1974 while he was Edinburgh University's rector.

A Treasury spokesman said the Chancellor, who has remained a close friend of the 44-year-old broadcaster, was being kept informed of her condition.

The 27-year-old police constable who was at the wheel has been suspended from driving duties.

The driver, and a 30-year-old Pc front seat passenger, both based at Islington Police Station, suffered shock but were unhurt.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "As is routine in accidents involving police vehicles, the driver is suspended from driving duties pending a full investigation from Two Area accident investigation unit."

Concerned viewers thanked

Ms McDonald is one of the UK's foremost broadcast journalists.

She has presented Channel 4 News and the Right To Reply programme in addition to working for BBC television.

She also writes regularly for the Guardian newspaper and the New Statesman magazine.

In 1995 she received the first ever Woman in Film and Television Award.

Newscaster Alex Thomson, who read Saturday's Channel 4 News, thanked viewers who had called in with good wishes for the presenter.

Channel 4 News has received several calls from viewers wishing her well. A spokesman told BBC News Online: "Everyone at Channel 4 is very concerned and our thoughts are with her and with her family."

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