Friday, December 5, 2008

Coming up on Panorama

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Hello there,


As news broke yesterday of the guilty verdict in the trial of Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan, Panorama sped into action putting the finishing touches to an hour special on the inside story of the kidnap that never was.

Shannon: The Mother of All Lies, looked behind the headlines and met those involved in the investigation.

The programme discovered that four years before Shannon disappeared the council had ordered a psychological report of Karen Matthews which found she needed "constant monitoring".

An independent review has now been ordered into Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire which was responsible for the family. You can read more about the story on the BBC News website.

In the programme Jeremy Vine heard how those working on the case first suspected the mother was involved, and learned of the moment she was discovered hidden in the base of a bed in Michael Donovan's flat.

Both Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan were found guilty of kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice for holding the nine-year old captive for 24 days.

If you missed the programme it is available to watch for seven days on the BBC iPlayer.

And there's more information, as well as a clip of the Detective Constable reliving the moment he found Shannon, on our website.


It's been a busy week for the Panorama team with not just the special but our regular Monday slot to fill.

Comeback Coal investigated the controversy surrounding the government's policy on opencast coal mining.

With a public committment to cutting the UK's greenhouse gas emissions, the programme claimed that behind the scenes the government is pushing through permission for more opencast coal mines in the face of local opposition.

Panorama reporter Gerry Northam visited the communities affected and spoke to one woman whose home is just 35 metres from an opencast coal mine.

With carbon capture and storage the British government's green plan for the future, Gerry travelled to Germany to see the world's first pilot project of the system with no plans for a similar scheme here.

You can read the government's response on our website.

If you missed the programme you can watch again via the BBC iPlayer.

And there's more information, as well as a clip from the programme, on our website.


The European Court of Human Rights this week ruled that two men whose DNA and fingerprints were held by police but who had not been convicted of any crime, should have their records expunged.

This could have huge implications for the UK's central DNA database which currently holds records for all those arrested regardless of whether they are charged or convicted. You can read the story in full on the BBC News website.

Last year Panorama commissioned a poll about people's attitudes towards a DNA national database which formed the basis of the programme Give Us Your DNA. Two-thirds of respondents were in favour of a database. You can find out more about that programme on our website.

Just two months ago we looked at the issues again in You can run... But can you hide? In this programme Simon Boazman examined just how secure his data was.

If you missed the programme you can watch it on the archive pages of our website where you'll also find more information about Simon's investigation.


Another story back in the headlines from the Panorama archive is the controversy surrounding plans for a third runway at Heathrow.

In July, our programme Friends in High Places questioned the government's green commitment in light of the move to expand Heathrow airport.

This week the Department of Transport has announced that it is postponing its decision until January 2009. A decision had been expected before Christmas.

You can read more about the story on BBC News Online. And the Panorama programme is available to watch on the archive pages of our website.


In next week's programme, one of Scotland's best-loved public figures goes on a personal journey to meet those who want to choose the moment of their death.

Margo Macdonald has Parkinson's Disease and has expressed her desire to have a choice on when she should die. In this film she uncovers the truth about assisted dying and investigates the UK's underground suicide movement.

She meets those in a similar situation to herself who are desperate to die and her lifelong friend and leader of the Scottish Catholics, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, tries to persuade her against taking her own life.

I'll Die When I Choose is on BBC One, Monday 8 December at 8.30pm.


That's all for this week. You can keep up to date with what's happening on the programme on our website.

And remember, if you have a story, suggestion or comment you'd like to send us about Panorama you can always email us

The Panorama Team
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