Hale hits out over Dando special

A row has broken out over the basis of information used in a Panorama documentary about the murder of television presenter Jill Dando.

Award-winning journalist Don Hale has accused Raphael Rowe, the presenter of the programme, of using old material, a claim which Rowe strongly denies.

Hale told Press Gazette: "I'm accusing him of plagiarism to a certain extent. It's a 100 per cent lift of the information that was presented to the Criminal Cases Review Commission on 5 November, 2002.

"It gave the impression that Raphael and the BBC team had come up with this new evidence completely on their own, which is not the case."

The Panorama special, Jill Dando's Murder — The New Evidence, featured forensic analysis which questioned the only piece of scientific evidence against Barry George, the man jailed for murdering Dando.

In the programme, which attracted 4.6m viewers on Tuesday night, Rowe investigated if there was new relevant evidence that should have been heard by a jury, and gained exclusive access to case documents and exhibits.

Rowe told Press Gazette: "We as investigative journalists went out there and spoke to the most crucial witnesses, explored the most crucial elements of the case –— the scientific elements of the case as well as other pieces of evidence.

"We didn't do a paper exercise investigation, we spoke to people, we got to the heart of the issues surrounding the evidence."

According to Rowe, the only issue that was raised at the Court of Appeal was identification. The issue of contamination was also mentioned, but no new evidence was brought.

He said that the jury members and other witnesses who were also important to the trial told him they had not been approached by anybody since the case was first heard.

Hale was part of the team with MOJO [Miscarriages of Justice Organisation] that had conducted a lot of work on the case long before Raphael Rowe began investigating the murder two years ago. He said: "There was no acknowledgement or reference at all to the work that we had done as a team in preparation for this."

However, Rowe argued that the capability of MOJO was overestimated.

He said: "They gave us no information that was included in the programme. The information that the organisation MOJO gave us could not be stood up."

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