The private man, the TV celebrity and a whirlwind romance

The Fiance
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The Independent Online

Alan Farthing, Jill Dando's fiancé, was at the Old Bailey for the opening of the case, with her brother Nigel and her Crimewatch co-presenter Nick Ross. During the eight-week trial, the consultant gynaecologist sat in the cavernous Court Number One almost every day.

For most of the time Mr Farthing, an intensely private man, shy of media attention before and after Ms Dando's murder, listened impassively. His composure seemed close to cracking only once – on the day that his own account of his relationship with Ms Dando was read out in court.

Mr Farthing, 37, related how he and the television presenter had been brought together by a mutual friend who thought they might get on. Ms Dando was single and Mr Farthing was getting over separation from his wife, Maria. He said the breakdown of his seven-year marriage had been very painful and that Ms Dando had been "supportive". They had a whirlwind relationship. "We hit it off almost immediately and very quickly fell in love," he said. Within weeks of their first dinner date, Mr Farthing invited Ms Dando to join him on holiday in Australia. Mr Farthing said she had been able to join him for only a week but, when he returned to London later, she was waiting for him at the airport.

They became inseparable. He revealed that Ms Dando spent most of her time at his home, only returning to her own house when she had an early start in the television studio or wanted to pick up her mail. One year after meeting, they became engaged.

In a rare interview, Mr Farthing revealed that he still had pictures of Ms Dando on his walls, and some of her belongings. He made clear that moving on was far from easy.

In the middle of the trial, it was revealed that he was in a new relationship. He met the actress Helen Hobson, 35, at Sir Cliff Richard's 60th birthday party on a boat off Nice eight months ago. Sir Cliff was a friend of Ms Dando. The couple seemed embarrassed that their relationship had become public. Ms Hobson said the timing was hardly ideal at this "sensitive and difficult" time.

Mr Farthing said in a statement: "This is hard for me. No one can replace Jill. Helen and I have become close friends. Who knows what might happen?"

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