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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK


Police defend 'unmanned' Dando hotline

Jill Dando was shot on her doorstep on 26 April

Scotland Yard has defended detectives leaving the Jill Dando murder inquiry telephone hotline unmanned on the weekend when the presenter would have married fiancé Alan Farthing.

Jill Dando 1961 - 1999
The Mirror newspaper, which published a fresh appeal for information from police on Saturday, said reporters tried the incident room 10 times over the weekend without getting a response.

The Crimewatch presenter's agent Jon Roseman told the paper he was "stunned and amazed", and accused the police of "breathtaking incompetence".

Memorial service

But a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "The incident room would not necessarily be staffed over the weekend at this stage of an inquiry.

[ image: A service in memory of the presenter is being held on Tuesday]
A service in memory of the presenter is being held on Tuesday
"However officers continue to work on the inquiry away from the incident room.

"If, at this stage of the inquiry, any members of the public are unable to reach the incident room at the weekend they are urged to speak to the local police station or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111."

Detectives are still hunting the killer who shot the Ms Dando on the doorstep of her Fulham home on 26 April this year.

On Tuesday, friends and family are due to pay tribute to Miss Dando at a memorial service at All Soul's Church, London - next to the BBC's Broadcasting House.

More than 600 people are due to attend the service, including Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon.

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