Shannon suspect charged with kidnapping

Police have charged Michael Donovan with the kidnap and false imprisonment of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews, who was found on Friday after being missing for 24 days.

Officers had been granted an extra 24 hours to question Mr Donovan, 39, of Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, Dewsbury, and announced at 10.15pm last night that he would be charged and would appear at Dewsbury magistrates' court this morning.

Peter Mann, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said that charges were being brought by officers from West Yorkshire police after they had carefully considered all the material in the case. He warned the media to report the case responsibly. He added: "Michael Donovan stands accused of this offence and has a right to a fair trial."

The development came after an emergency protection order on Shannon was lifted following a meeting between police and Shannon's mother.

At the meeting the family agreed that the child should remain with officers until they had finished questioning her about what happened during the time she was missing. Police were said to be talking to Shannon in short bursts to tease out information.

The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire defended his force yesterday against accusations that they took too long to find the missing girl. Sir Norman Bettison described his officers' efforts as unprecedented, phenomenal and professional.

He reserved special praise for the two detectives who actually found Shannon, Paul Kettlewell and Nick Townsend, after their suspicions were aroused during door-to-door inquiries. Sir Norman said officers had interviewed 6,000 people and searched 3,000 houses during the investigation.