Dando's friends defend police investigation

The family and friends of Jill Dando, the murdered television presenter, yesterday defended the police investigation into the shooting despite its failure to catch the killer nearly a year after it happened.

They were speaking at the launch of a £5m appeal to establish a crime research centre in memory of Ms Dando.

Friends, including Nick Ross, her co-presenter of BBC's Crimewatch, her fiancée Alan Farthing, Sir Cliff Richard and the Countess of Wessex, paid tribute to Ms Dando at a press launch in central London.

Asked about the lack of success of Scotland Yard's 11-month inquiry, Mr Ross said: "It's very easy to turn on the police and say they have failed, but we don't feel this."

Sir Cliff said he was confident the murderer would be caught, adding: "The police will rattle enough chains and bars to find the killer."

Ms Dando was killed by a single shot to the head outside her home in Fulham, south-west London, in April last year.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, told the audience: "The police service never gives up."

Mr Farthing said: "Jill was quite an extraordinary person in what she achieved, in the way that she looked, in the way that she was unchanged by her fame. Despite detailed scrutiny of every movement by police and investigative journalists, nobody has been able to find a secret side to Jill - she was quite simply everything you wanted her to be. "

A charity has been formed to set up the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, which will provide crime prevention training and research. The fund aims to establish a Jill Dando chair in crime science at University College, London, for a professor who will act as a focus for crime prevention projects.

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