24. Missing Little Princess: Can we detect high-stakes lies?

24. Missing Little Princess: Can we detect high-stakes lies?

By BBC Radio 5 Live

On the 19th February 2008, nine-year-old Shannon Matthews went missing in Dewsbury in West Yorkshire. She had just been dropped off by a coach at her school which was just half a mile from her home. Shannon’s best friend said her brother was supposed to be collecting her but he never turned up.

Shannon’s mum Karen reported her missing later that evening. The Police moved quickly for fear that she had been abducted. Emotional TV appeals by her mother, Karen, soon followed. At one stage, up to 250 officers and 60 detectives and half the UK’s Police sniffer dogs were involved in the search – making it at one time, one of the largest investigations since the Yorkshire Ripper case 30 years earlier.

As the search grew more frantic, suspicion started to fall on her family. First on Karen’s boyfriend and then on Karen herself. In this episode, Julia and Sofie talk about the disappearance of Shannon Matthews, the issue of social class and victimhood and research by Dr Leanne ten Brinke on analysing videos of pleaders to see if it is possible to detect high-stakes lies.

Warning: This episode contains strong language and references to murder, child abduction and suicide.

Presenters: Dr. Julia Shaw and Sofie Hagen Producer: Paula McGrath Assistant Producer: Simona Rata Artwork: Kingsley Nebechi Music: Matt Chandler Series Editor: Rami Tzabar

Academic Consultants for The Open University: Dr. Zoe Walkington Dr. Camilla Elphick

Commissioning Assistant Producer: Adam Eland Commissioning Executive: Dylan Haskins Commissioning Editor: Jason Phipps

Bad People is produced in partnership with The Open University and is a BBC Audio Science Production for BBC Sounds #BadPeople_BBC

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