There had been theories that the popular TV personality was targeted by a Serb hit squad in revenge for the NATO airstrike on Radio Television of Serbia’s HQ – a theory dismissed by police at the time as not credible – but this is the first time the existence of specific calls appearing to claim responsibility has been revealed.
The ITV documentary, Jill Dando – The 20 Year Mystery, being shown on Thursday night, examined dozens of files from the original investigation.
It found that around 11am on the day after the murder, the man who made the first call is believed to have made another to the BBC, saying: “Yesterday I called to add a few more numbers to the list because your government and in particular your Prime Minister Blair murdered, butchered 17 innocent young people.
“He butchered, we butcher back. The first one you had yesterday. The next one will be Tony Hall.”
Police took this call seriously enough for security around Hall, the then BBC’s head of news, to be increased and for his family to be moved to a safe address.
The same man made another call on April 28, saying: “Listen you and the BBC are the voice of your government that’s why your reporter is dead because your government killed 17 innocent people.”
However, it appears police did not connect the second two calls to the one made on the day of the murder.
The ITV documentary also found an intelligence report by the then National Crime Intelligence Service (NCIS), which was passed on to the Met Police, suggesting Ms Dando’s murder had been ordered by the Serbian warlord Arkan, who had close links to the Milošević regime in Belgrade.
The NCIS report said there were similarities between the bullet that killed Ms Dando and those used in political assassinations in Germany. It suggested that a gunman had travelled to Britain through Germany and France.
Philip Ingram, a former Colonel with British Army Intelligence between 1992 and 2000, told ITV there appeared to have been enough credible evidence to warrant the Met following up the Serb connection more thoroughly than it did at the time, particularly the phone calls.
He said: “That’s significant because we would have expected someone to try and claim responsibility on the day of the murder and soon afterwards.”
Mr Ingram, who served in the Balkans, added: “If something that significant, because it happened on the day of the murder, was missed then we have to ask the question ‘what else could have been missed?’ Police officer, like everyone else, are human and mistakes can happen, but mistakes can be significant.”
The documentary also re-examined the theory that Ms Dando, 37, was killed in revenge for her work on BBC’s Crimewatch bringing criminals to justice, with one claim that bullets used by organised criminal gangs in Liverpool were similar to the one which killed her.
The Met Police declined to answer questions about its investigation, but said in a statement: “The investigation into the murder of Ms Dando remains an open investigation, and therefore we cannot comment in any detail other than to say we will always explore any new information which may become available.”