• As Cumbrian gunman Derrick Bird headed into Whitehaven intent on killing rival taxi drivers, armed officers went past him in the opposite direction, a Channel 4 documentary claims tonight.

    Police received reports at 10.20am on Wednesday, June 2, of shots being fired in the village of Frizington, five miles east of Whitehaven. Officers from Whitehaven and other stations were immediately sent to the scene.

    However, the shooting had been carried out by Derrick Bird, who then travelled into Whitehaven as armed officers were travelling out of Whitehaven, which the Cumbria Police acknowledge, according to the C4 documentary.

    At 10.33am, Derrick Bird shot dead taxi driver Darren Rewcastle at the cab rank in Duke Street, Whitehaven. Within minutes he shot and wounded three more taxi drivers and one passenger. He did not encounter any armed police in Whitehaven, or anywhere else on what the Chief Constable has called a "45 mile rampage across West Cumbria", in which Bird killed 12 people and injured 11 more before committing suicide.

    Channel 4's "Chasing the Cumbrian Killer" reports that policing in Frizington was already higher than usual on June 2 because by terrible coincidence, this was the same morning of the funeral for a local 16 year old girl killed in a Lake District bus crash.

    Alan Webber, the village postmaster, says: "We had actually people on the streets here, lining up to pay their respects for the funeral as it was coming through the village and at the same time the police were going through the village and we were told in no uncertain terms to clear the streets to make sure people were indoors."

    According to the documentary, produced by Mentorn Media, despatching armed officers to Frizington, plus other units, meant that from the start, police were at a significant disadvantage in trying to catch Derrick Bird.

    Also in the documentary a relative of Derrick Birds, Brian Spencer, speaks for the first time about the impact it has had on the family and remembers how they were together just a week earlier:

    "A week previous David and his brother Derrick were up at the local scramble track with an off road vehicle David had just finished making and they spent quite a bit of time that afternoon driving round and round and laughing their heads off like you'd expect warm brothers to do. There wasn't any underlying reason or anything brewing. The feeling of shock and horror, there hasn't been words written yet to describe that feeling of emotion."

    The documentary also features a number of interviews with survivors including Emma Percival who remembers being in a taxi with Bird three weeks before: "There was summat wrong with him. There was summat was there that's made him go like that because a few weeks ago I was in his taxi and he didn't seem like that, and he was fine. But as the weeks have gone on, there's summat there, so he's probably had a mental break down or summat."

  • Mentorn Media has produced the film that the world is talking about - marking the anniversary of a young Iranian woman's death.

    The documentary for HBO follows the story of a young Iranian woman, Neda Agha Soltan, who on June 20th 2009, was shot in the heart by a sniper, and lay bleeding to death in a back street of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

    Within hours of her death, Neda's dying moments, captured on different cell phones, were appearing on computer screens across the world.

    HBO is commemorating the anniversary of Neda's death with a program that tells Neda's personal story -- the first time anything like this has been attempted, either in print or in a documentary, to find out who this young woman was, how she become such a powerful symbol to millions and what she was fighting for.

    Mentorn Media Executive Producer, Neil Grant, said: "HBO has described For Neda as the most important documentary HBO has ever done. It's an incredible testament to Antony and the team and we're proud of the international recognition that it's receiving."

    Because of the importance and timely nature of the topic -- the death of Neda Agha-Soltan -- HBO gave permission for this wide release prior to its US broadcast and it's been pre-released in Iran via the Voice of America's Persian News Network and on various websites in English, Arabic, and Farsi.

    In making the film multi-award winning director, Antony Thomas, travelled from California to the Turkish/Iranian border and within Europe to find people who knew Neda personally or were close to the events of June and July last year.

    But the only way to get to the personal heart of the story was to work inside Iran -- at a time when foreign film-makers are forbidden entry, and Iranians themselves risk arrest and long term imprisonment if caught filming without official approval.

    Thanks to the exceptional bravery of Neda's family and Saeed Kamali Dehegan, a young undercover Iranian journalist, Neda comes to life in this exceptional documentary, featuring first time interviews with Neda's father, mother, sister and younger brother. Her family hold nothing back - intimate recollections, videos of Neda, her private diaries and letters, even the banned books she was reading at the time of her death.

    As well as providing important new insights into last year's rigged election and its aftermath, For Neda gives a powerful sense of what it means to be a woman, living under the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    But above all, For Neda is an exceptional portrait of a young woman, who left her family home on the afternoon of June 20th 2009, knowing she was risking her life in the cause of freedom.

    The documentary transmits on HBO on June 14th 2010.