Linda Watson and her daughter Amanda London-Williams will today be formally told in court that charges against them have been dropped.
The pair, who have been on bail for the last year, learnt of the extraordinary development last Friday, just days before they were to be tried at the Old Bailey for the murder of company director Richard Watson. Mr Watson, 55, who owned a computer firm, was shot dead as he climbed out of his sports car at his luxury home in East Grinstead, East Sussex, in December 1996. The women were both inside the house at the time of the shooting.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed last night they will be dropping charges because of lack of evidence. Sussex Police last night declined to comment on whether they had reopened their investigation into the murder.
Last night Mrs Watson, 42, who was the dead man's third wife, and her daughter were lying low as they prepared for this morning's hearing. Ms London-Williams' solicitor, Jeff Hide, said both women were grateful for the decision.
"I would not say they are relieved because they have always maintained their complete innocence. They are amazed that the matter has even got to this stage," he said. "There is not a scrap of evidence against either of them," he added.
Mr Hide has been working on the women's defence since they were charged with the murder in July 1997. He has amassed a huge amount of evidence which he will present to the police, indicating possible alternative lines of inquiry.
It is understood some of the evidence will suggest Mr Watson was working for M16, informally passing on information he gathered from business trips in eastern Europe. He was also believed to be working on other multi-million pound deals, not involving computers, shortly before his death. Both factors may have been relevant to his death.
It will also be revealed that less than a month before Mr Watson was murdered - shot by 12 shotgun blasts - he had been attacked by two men armed with a stun-gun.Reuse content