Detectives meet to review Dando case

TOP Scotland Yard detectives met to discuss the “next steps” in the Jill Dando murder investigation.

Assistant commissioner John Yates, who led the cash-for-honours inquiry; detective chief superintendent Hamish Campbell, who was in charge of the original Dando inquiry; and commander Simon Foy, head of the Yard’s homicide and serious crime unit, were reviewing the case.

They will have to decide whether to relaunch the investigation in the wake of the acquittal of Barry George on Friday after a retrial at the Old Bailey.

If the case is reopened, detectives would have to re-examine 2,500 witness statements and 3,700 exhibits for new clues.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “There is going to be a meeting between commander Foy, detective chief superintendent Campbell and assistant commissioner Yates.

“They will be discussing the next steps to take.”

The spokesman refused to comment on reports that detectives from another large urban force could take over the inquiry.

Mr Foy said police were “disappointed” at the Old Bailey verdict.

The acquittal of Mr George after eight years behind bars leaves police no nearer to catching Ms Dando’s killer than they were when the Crimewatch presenter was shot on the doorstep of her west London home in 1999.

A central plank of the original prosecution case against Mr George was a single speck of firearms residue found in the pocket of his coat.

A first appeal by lawyers acting for Mr George was rejected, but in November last year his conviction was quashed after it emerged that the residue, although of the same type as that found on the victim, could have come from other sources. At the retrial, judge Mr Justice Griffith Williams ruled out the firearms evidence.

Police investigating the murder became suspicious of Mr George when they found he habitually followed and photographed women in the street — he was seen to approach 38 during three weeks of surveillance.

But the prosecution lacked direct evidence of his involvement in Ms Dando’s murder and no witnesses were able to identify him as the killer.

In interviews over the weekend Mr George, 48, said he could not have killed Ms Dando because he was stalking another woman at the time of the shooting.

Between 10.30am and 12.33pm on the day of the murder, Mr George said, he was either at a disability centre or walking beside a woman he followed from it, and he said he would be willing to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence.

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