Top detective to review Dando case

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The Independent Online

A senior Scotland Yard detective was tonight given the go-ahead to review evidence in the Jill Dando case in an attempt to identify new leads.

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, met today to discuss the case.

Mr Yates said tonight that Mr Foy would now lead a team of specialist officers from Homicide Command in a re-examination of evidence in the wake of the acquittal of Barry George on Friday.

He said: "As with all unsolved murders, this case remains open and subject to review. A £50,000 reward from the charity Crimestoppers still remains available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Jill's murderer.

"We continue to appeal for any new information and keep an open mind in relation to this case.

"This investigation has been subject to numerous reviews and assessments since 1999, by the Met's internal review group, the Crown Prosecution Service, Criminal Case Review Commission, two senior independent Treasury Council and the Court of Appeal.

"This remains a Met police investigation, officers from the Homicide Command from the Specialist Crime Directorate, led by Commander Simon Foy, will today begin the process of further assessment and scrutiny, of the available evidence, to establish whether there are further potential investigative leads in this case."

The announcement came as Mr George said in a television interview that he did not believe Miss Dando's killer would ever be found.

In an interview with Sky News, the 48-year-old said: "To be quite honest and practical, I don't think they'll ever find who done it."

He insisted he was not responsible for the 1999 killing for which he spent eight years in jail.

"I will maintain that I will look anyone in the eye and state I have not killed Jill Dando."

While Mr George expressed sympathy for Miss Dando's family, he was bitter about being wrongly imprisoned.

"I've missed out on so much. I should have been getting on with my life. Who knows what I could have done and achieved?".

Mr Foy said police were "disappointed" with the not guilty verdict as Mr George walked free following a retrial at the Old Bailey on Friday.

He now faces trawling through 2,500 witness statements and 3,700 exhibits for new clues about the killing of the TV presenter on her own west London doorstep in 1999.

But a forensic medicine expert said today that the Metropolitan police have probably conducted "at least one" such review already, when Mr George first appealed.

Anthony Busuttil, Professor Emeritus of Forensic Medicine at Edinburgh University, said: "A cold case review is triggered if there is an appeal. Assuming that all the evidence they had was gone through with a fine-tooth comb there is nowhere else they can go."

He said officers would need a new suspect, perhaps someone arrested for another crime, a tip-off or a confession from a prisoner to make a breakthrough in the case.

But advances in DNA techniques could mean that officers could use old exhibits to uncover new evidence, he said.

"The only new forensic technique available to the police is DNA analysis. Infinitesimally small quantities are needed now to produce a match. I would imagine that the clothing will be looked at very closely indeed.

"It is not an impossibility that something will turn up and given the high profile of the case people's memory might be jogged and they could come forward with something new."

Meanwhile, Sion Jenkins, who was wrongly convicted of killing his foster daughter Billie-Jo Jenkins, said today that cases like that of Mr George highlighted the problem of miscarriages of justice.

He told GMTV: "Why there are so many? What are the causes of it?

"How can we correct it? How can we support people who have been wrongly convicted? None of that is discussed within the media, it's just simply left. And because of that we don't learn from it."

The acquittal of Mr George after eight years behind bars leaves police no nearer to catching Miss Dando's killer than they were when the Crimewatch presenter was shot dead.