SHANNON Matthews’ abduction was thrown back into the spotlight by the BBC’s screening of The Moorside, and now Channel 5 is airing another documentary.
Julie Bushby was Karen’s friend and neighbour who was at the centre of organising the search party for the “missing” child.
Who is Julie Bushby?
Julie Bushby organised the hunt for missing Shannon Matthews in 2003.
She was the good friend and neighbour of Karen, as well as being the chair of the Moorside residents and tenants association that helped trace Shannon.
Efforts included marches, personal searches, and door-to-door enquiries – which were eventually revealed to be pointless.
Julie continued to visit Karen in prison once a month for four years as she hoped to discover the truth about what happened.
In 2017 Julie told This Morning hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield: “I felt sorry for her then, and I still feel sorry for her now.
“I wanted answers, she kept saying that other people were involved but I wanted to know the truth, why, what.”
Phillip asked if she ever found out the truth and she said “no”.
Julie still lives in Dewsbury, saying the estate will always be home to her.
She said: “It’s always felt safe to me, the community always rallies around.”.
Karen’s friend was played by acclaimed actress Sheridan Smith in The Moorside – and she has praised the Funny Girl star for her portrayal.
What has she said about Shannon Matthews’ disappearance?
Mum Karen was infamously jailed for eight years for her part in faking the kidnap of her own daughter in 2008, in a story which shocked Britain.
The mum-of-seven, who has been dubbed Britain’s Most Hated Mum, was released from prison after serving half of her sentence.
Shannon was removed from her mother’s care and given a new identity.
In the Channel 5 documentary The Disappearance Of Shannon Matthews, Bushby said she felt “hurt and conned” by Matthews after she deceived the public.
Bushby said: “The whole community were let down. We were foolish enough to believe what came out of her mouth and her family’s mouths.
“As a community I think we should still be proud of ourselves. You’d have to live through it to believe it.”
Why does she want the case re-opened?
Julie wants to “scrutinise” the police statements herself and she says there could be something in there she will spot, that the police did not at the time.
She said: “What I’d love to do is get hold of everybody’s statements. That’s what I’d love to do, and sit there and scrutinise them.
“There are qualified coppers, and they’ve probably all scrutinised these statements, but there’ll be something that I see that they don’t see, but the chances of that happening are…uh-uh.”
Did Julie Bushby and Karen Matthews stay friends?
The friends have not kept in touch over the years even though Bushby visited Matthews during her time in prison.
She added that if Karen were to get in touch she “would still want answers off of her” but said “life’s too short to hold grudges for the rest of your life”.
Is she still in contact with Karen Matthews?
Julie has disputed the theory that Karen devised the elaborate plot in a bid to claim the £50,000 reward money for finding Shannon – and has said Karen was trying to get away from Craig Meehan, her boyfriend at the time.
She told the Radio Times that the key to understanding Karen is she is “a child in an adult’s body”.
Julie describes the mum as “stupid, not evil” and is convinced that her motive was not for the money.
Even after Karen was found guilty and sent to prison, Julie was the one person to visit her.
She says she did so as although she wanted answers, Karen was “a mate” and because Julie felt she “must be so lonely”.
Bushby has previously claimed Karen “wasn’t intelligent enough” to mastermind the fake kidnapping, and has called for police to reinvestigate the shocking case.
View more information: https://www.the-sun.com/news/2313528/julie-bushby-karen-matthews-friend-shannon-disappearance/