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Jill Dando
Born 9 November 1961(1961-11-09)
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England
Died 26 April 1999 (aged 37)
Fulham, London, England
Cause of death Murder
Occupation Television presenter and Newsreader
Employer BBC

Jill Wendy Dando (9 November 1961 – 26 April 1999) was an English journalist, television presenter and Newsreader who worked for the BBC for 14 years and was one of the most famous women in Britain when she was murdered in April 1999. Her death sparked a huge manhunt by the Metropolitan Police which eventually led to a controversial conviction, retrial and acquittal of Barry George.



Jill Dando was born in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, and was educated at Mendip Green Infant School, St Martin's Junior School, Worle Comprehensive School and Broadoak Sixth Form Centre, where she was head girl.[1] She studied journalism at South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education in Wales.

Dando was a keen thespian. She was a member of Weston-super-Mare Amateur Dramatic Society and Exeter Little Theatre Company, with whom she appeared in plays at the Barnfield Theatre.

Dando was a volunteer at Sunshine Hospital Radio in Weston-super-Mare before she started her first job as a trainee reporter for the local newspaper, the Weston Mercury, where her father and brother worked. After five years as a print journalist, she began employment with the BBC when she became a newsreader for BBC Radio Devon in 1985. That year, she transferred to BBC South West, where she presented a regional news magazine programme, Spotlight South West. In 1986, Dando made a move from regional to national television when she moved to London to present the hourly daytime television news summaries.

Dando went on to present the BBC television programmes Breakfast News, the BBC One O'Clock News, the Six O'Clock News, the travel programme Holiday, the crime appeal series Crimewatch and occasionally Songs of Praise. At the time of her death she was among those with the highest profile of the BBC's on-screen staff; she had previously been BBC Personality of the Year. Crimewatch would later reconstruct her murder in an attempt to aid the police in the search for her killer. However, following the acquittal of Barry George, Crimewatch has made no further appeals for information about Dando's murder. At the time of her death, Dando had presented just one episode of her new project, The Antiques Inspectors and was scheduled to present the Six O'Clock News that evening.[1] She was featured on the cover of that week's Radio Times magazine.


On the morning of 26 April 1999, Dando left the Chiswick home of her fiancé, Dr. Alan Farthing. She returned alone, by car, to the house she owned but rarely visited in Gowan Avenue, Fulham, West London. As she reached her front door at about 11:32, she was shot once in the head.[2] Her body was discovered shortly afterwards by a local resident Helen Doble. Dando was taken to the nearby Charing Cross Hospital where she was declared dead on arrival at 13:03 BST. She was 37 years old.

"As Dando was about to put her keys in the lock to open the front door of her home in Fulham, she was grabbed from behind. With his right arm, the assailant held her and forced her to the ground, so that her face was almost touching the tiled step of the porch. Then, with his left hand, he fired a single shot at her left temple, killing her instantly. The bullet entered her head just above her ear, parallel to the ground, and came out the right side of her head." - Bob Woffinden, The Guardian, July 2002

Forensic study indicated that Dando had been shot by a bullet from a 9mm automatic pistol, with the gun pressed against her head at the moment of the shot. The killer, a white man thought to be in his late 30s, was seen walking from the scene of the attack.



After the murder there was massive media coverage. An investigation by the Metropolitan Police—named Operation Oxborough—proved fruitless for over a year. Dando's status as a well-known public figure probably brought her into contact with thousands of people, and she was known by millions, so there was fevered speculation about the motive for her killing.

Within six months, the murder investigation team had spoken to more than 2,500 people and taken more than 1,000 statements. With little progress after a year, the police concentrated their attention on Barry George. George resided about half a mile from Dando's house. He had a history of stalking women and other antisocial behaviour. George was put under surveillance and was eventually charged with Dando's murder.

George was tried at the Old Bailey, convicted, and on 2 July 2001 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. However, concern about this conviction was widespread on the basis that the case against George appeared thin. Two appeals were unsuccessful. But, after discredited forensics evidence was excluded from the prosecution's case, George's third appeal succeeded in November 2007. The original conviction was quashed and a second trial lasting eight weeks ended in George's acquittal on 1 August 2008.[3]

Jill Dando's family and her former fiancé Alan Farthing did not ask the police to reopen the investigation.[4] George's family and supporters were jubilant at the outcome, claiming that there had never been any worthwhile evidence against him. This view was articulated by Dando's former agent, Jon Roseman, who stated that he had doubted George's guilt from an early stage.[5] After George's acquittal, a number of newspapers published articles which appeared to suggest that he was guilty of the Dando murder and other offences against women. In December 2009 George accepted substantial damages from a newspaper group following a libel action in the High Court.[6]

Potential suspects

Lines of inquiry explored in the police investigation included :

  • Theories that a jealous ex-boyfriend or an unknown lover had killed her. This was quickly ruled out by the detectives who interviewed all Dando's friends and acquaintances and checked her phone calls.[7]
  • A belief that somebody had hired an assassin to murder Dando as revenge for their being convicted as a result of evidence garnered by Crimewatch viewers. After exhaustive inquiries this was also ruled out by detectives.[7]
  • Various theories relating to Bosnian-Serb or Yugoslav groups (see below).
  • The possibility that a deranged fan may have killed Dando after she had rejected his approaches. Dando’s brother, Nigel, informed detectives that she had become concerned by “some guy pestering her” in the few days before her death, but this was ruled out by detectives.
  • A case of mistaken identity. This was judged unlikely, given that the killing took place on the doorstep of Dando's own home.
  • Even actions taken by a professional rival or business partner had to be considered. Her agent Jon Roseman stated that he had been interviewed as a suspect by police.

The original police investigation had explored the possibility of a professional killing. But since Dando was living with her fiancé and was only rarely visiting her Gowan Avenue house, it was considered unlikely that a professional assassin would have been sufficiently well informed about Dando's movements to have known when she was going there. CCTV evidence of Dando's last journey (mainly security video recordings from the Kings Mall shopping centre in Hammersmith, which she visited on her way to Fulham) did not show any sign of her being followed.[8] Her BBC colleague Nick Ross stated on Newsnight on the night of her death that retaliatory attacks by criminals against police, lawyers and judges were almost unknown in Britain. Finally, forensic examination of the shell case and bullet recovered from the scene of the attack suggested that the weapon used had been the result of a workshop conversion of a replica or decommissioned gun. It was argued that a professional assassin would not use such a poor quality weapon. The police therefore soon began to favour the idea that the killing had been carried out by a crazed individual acting on an opportunist basis. This assumed profile of the perpetrator led to the focus on Barry George.

The Yugoslav connection

Soon after the killing some commentators identified the possibility of a Yugoslav connection.

At Barry George’s first trial his defence barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, quoted from a National Criminal Intelligence Service report which stated that the Serbian warlord leader, Arkan, had ordered her assassination in retaliation for the bombing of a television station in Belgrade by NATO aeroplanes on 23 April 1999. He implied that Dando's earlier presentation of an appeal for aid for Kosovan Albanian refugees may have angered Bosnian-Serb hardliners.

The police did not believe that the Yugoslavs had killed Dando. Since Dando was merely a TV presenter they did not perceive any obvious motive on the part of the Yugoslavs. Furthermore, only three days had separated the Belgrade bombing and the killing of Dando. The police reasoned that three days would not have allowed sufficient time for the Yugoslavs to have organised and carried out her murder. Finally, no Yugoslav group ever credibly claimed responsibility for the killing. It was argued that there would be no point in carrying out a revenge killing without claiming responsibility.

However, the theory still holds great sway with commentators. The former communist regime in Yugoslavia had a history of targeted assassinations directed against its opponents. It has been claimed that between 1946 and 1991 the Yugoslav Secret Service (UDBA) had carried out at least 150 assassination attempts against people living outside Yugoslavia. The victims were mostly Croatian émigrés, although others were targeted. The attacks were usually carried out by small teams consisting of a trigger-man supported by a spotter and were always carefully planned. The attacks were often made as targets entered or left their homes since this was the point at which they were most vulnerable and where a case of mistaken identity was least likely.[9]

The last known UDBA hit in the UK took place on 20 October 1988 when Nikola Stedul, a 51 year old Croatian émigré was gunned down outside his home in the Scottish town of Kirkcaldy. For various reasons, the attack did not go smoothly. Stedul survived it although he was severely wounded in the head. His assailant was arrested a few hours later at Heathrow airport and identified as one Viko Sindic – a Yugoslav known to Western intelligence services.[10]

Bob Woffinden, a journalist who specialises in miscarriage of justice has stated "Claims of responsibility are made by groups such as the IRA or ETA. In 60 years, there has not once been a claim of responsibility for an assassination carried out by east European secret services". Wooffinden advanced the view that a Yugoslav group was behind the Dando killing and in various newspaper articles he contested all the grounds on which the police had dismissed this possibility.[11][12]

Discredited links with Yugoslavia include when a West Midlands petty criminal of Serbian descent was said to have boasted of the killing in a bar in Belgrade in September 2001. A jailed former cargo aircraft captain as well as two other witnesses stated they were present in the bar at the time of the alleged confession.[13]


She was the daughter of Jack and Winifred Dando, and had an older brother Nigel. Her mother died of leukaemia in January 1986 at the age of 58. Her father outlived her, dying in February 2009 on his 91st birthday.[1][2] Her brother now works as a journalist for BBC Radio Bristol, having previously worked as a journalist in local newspapers since the 1970s. [3]

She never married or had children; she had planned to marry Alan Farthing in September 1999. Farthing, a medical doctor, married fellow medic Dr Janet Stowell in March 2008. [4]


Jill's Garden in Weston-super-Mare

Dando died intestate; consequently her father inherited her entire net estate. Its gross value was just over £1 million.

Dando's co-presenter Nick Ross proposed the formation of an academic institute in her name and, together with her fiancé, Alan Farthing, raised almost £1.5m. The Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science was founded at University College London on 26 April 2001, the second anniversary of her murder.[14]

A memorial garden was designed and realised by the BBC Television Ground Force team in Dando's memory, using plants and colours that were special to her. It is located within Grove Park, Weston-super-Mare (51°21′09″N 2°58′45″W / 51.352498°N 2.979242°W / 51.352498; -2.979242) and was opened on 2 August 2001, by Councillor Peter Bryant, chairman of North Somerset Council.[15]

The BBC set up a bursary award in Dando's memory, which enables one student each year to study broadcast journalism at University College Falmouth. Sophie Long, who was then a post-graduate who had grown up in Weston-super-Mare and is now presenter on BBC News, gained the first bursary award in 2000.[16]

In 2007, Weston College opened a new University Campus on the site of the former Broadoak Sixth Form Centre where Dando studied. The Sixth Form building has been dedicated to her and named as "The Jill Dando Centre".[17][18]


  1. ^ a b Barker, Dennis (27 April 1999). "Jill Dando Obituary". The Guardian.,,296482,00.html. Retrieved 2007-06-23. 
  2. ^ "BBC presenter shot dead". BBC News. 26 April 1999. 
  3. ^ "George not guilty of Dando murder". BBC News. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-01. 
  4. ^ Leake, Christopher (2 August 2008). "Dando family and former fiance want her murder case closed". London: Mail Online. Retrieved 2009-03-04. "... a senior police source last night told The Mail on Sunday that Miss Dando's former fiance, consultant gynaecologist Alan Farthing, and her family wanted the case to remain closed ... the senior officer revealed that it was 'most likely' there would be no reinvestigation, though the file would remain open ..." 
  5. ^ Roseman, Jon (2 August 2008). "I believe it is too late to find Jill killer now". Top stories (London: Daily Mirror). Retrieved 2009-03-04. "I know, first hand, that the police did a thorough investigation ... But almost from the moment Barry George was arrested, I felt sure he could not be Jill's killer ... Later on I realised ... that the forensic evidence was so inadequate it would have been ruled inadmissible in every state in America." 
  6. ^ BBC report :December 2009
  7. ^ a b Cathcart, Brian (2 August 2008). "Dando murder: we need to think twice before locking up the local weirdo". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  8. ^ Guardian article :2001 article
  9. ^ Pravda, 2002 :book review
  10. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 2005 :article on Nikola Stedul
  11. ^ Woffinden, Bob (6 July 2002). "Shadow of doubt?". The Guardian.,3605,749126,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  12. ^ Campbell, Duncan (1 August 2008). "With Barry George innocent, who did kill Jill Dando?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  13. ^ David Leppard (February 22, 2009). "Serb 'admits killing Jill Dando' in revenge for Nato bombs". Times Online (London: Times Newspapers). 
  14. ^ "About the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science". Jill Dando Institute. Retrieved 2007-10-30. 
  15. ^ "A memorial to Jill Dando". The Weston & Somerset Mercury. Retrieved 2007-06-23. 
  16. ^ Sonia McDuff (3 May 2001). "FCA Bursary Winners". Falmouth Navigator. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  17. ^ "University Campus Dedicated to Jill". Weston College. 16 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  18. ^ "College remembers presenter Dando". BBC News. 6 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-30. 

External links

Preceded by
Sue Cook
Co-host of Crimewatch
with Nick Ross

Succeeded by
Fiona Bruce

Simple English

Jill Wendy Dando (9 November 1961 – 26 April 1999) was a British TV presenter. She was born and grew up in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and moved to London in the 1980s, where she was shot dead.

She worked as a journalist and newsreader, and also presented the Holiday programme and Crimewatch. She was engaged to Alan Farthing when she was shot on her doorstep. She was taken to Charing Cross Hospital where she was declared dead on arrival. Barry George was convicted of her murder in 2001 but was freed in 2008 when his retrial found him not guilty.


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