Sunday, November 04, 2007


This evening Channel 4 TV has been showing a well argued documentary entitled Did Barry George Kill Jill Dando? It follows a similar exploration of the tragic murder case on BBC1, and is broadcast on the eve of a further investigation by the Court of Appeal. It is a case I have been concerned about for some time, and which I commented on a few days after the original conviction on 2 July 2001 (below). Since then, the evidential inconsistencies and doubts have grown even stronger, and George's sister Michelle Diskin (pictured) has maintained a persistent, intelligent and dignified campaign to secure justice for her brother: a sad, vulnerable and broken man, but almost certainly not the murderer of a TV celebrity. Crucially, the Court will be told by experts tomorrow that the one microscopic piece of forensic evidence - a gunshot particle allegedly in the pocket of Barry George's coat - is invalid.

Independent, The (London)
, Jul 5, 2001 by Simon Barrow
Sir: Deborah Orr ("Why was this unstable and messed-up man left largely to fend for himself?", 3 July 2001) is quite right to say that the finding against Barry George is deeply unsatisfactory. There can be nothing more damaging to the credibility of British justice than the conviction of a man deemed unfit on mental and physical grounds to give testimony through little more than circumstantial speculation.

Just two of a whole array of parades achieved unaided identification, there were no positive witnesses to the key event, the murder weapon is missing, there is no motive, and the forensic evidence is so weak that it stretches the crucial notion of "reasonable doubt" beyond all meaning. On such thin grounds a majority of the jury apparently came to believe that a fantasist of limited faculties executed a killing of great sophistication. In time to come we will surely conclude that this was not a legal verdict, it was a media-fuelled travesty.

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