21 November 2018, The Tablet

Freedom fighter

The Tablet Interview: Michelle Diskin Bates

Freedom fighter

Michelle Diskin Bates


When I heard the news that Jill Dando, the presenter of Crimewatch, had been shot in the head on the doorstep of her Fulham home on 26 April 1999, I was playing with my baby daughter. The news gave me a jolt because Dando’s fiancé, consultant gynaecologist Alan Farthing, had looked after me through pregnancy. But for Michelle Diskin Bates the news bulletin that shook her most profoundly came just over a year later, on 25 May 2000.

“It was a beautiful day,” she remembers. She was at home in Ireland, and “I’d caught up on lots of housework. I was getting ready to go to a Bible study group, and I thought I’d just catch Gerry Ryan’s news programme before I set off. The newscaster said that someone had been arrested for the murder of Jill Dando, and I thought, ‘Oh good!’ Then he said that the suspect was called Barry Bulsara, and I froze. My brother, Barry, had told me this was the name he was using for his email. I thought, ‘No! This has to be a mistake. This couldn’t be our Barry.’”

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