A note about the story on remains found in Northern Territory

On Friday The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald published a story by crime reporter John Silvester reporting that police had found human remains near Alice Springs.

Those remains, the story said, would be tested to discover whether they were from Peter Falconio, a British backpacker murdered in 2001.

Bradley John Murdoch was convicted of Falconio’s murder in 2005 but has refused to reveal the location of the body.

The story, which was based on briefings from multiple police sources, reported there had been several past discoveries that had given hope to investigators and police were “not jumping to any conclusions” in this case.

When Silvester asked the NT Police media department if a body had been found, they replied with a statement saying: “Not that media has been made aware at this stage.”

However, late on Friday night, Northern Territory Police issued a statement that questioned the accuracy of our reporting, saying remains had not been located.

Assistant Commissioner Michael White said: “NT Police would like to advise the public that speculating on the identity of any missing person causes unwarranted grief and trauma to family and friends.”

Shortly after this statement was issued, The Age and The Herald retracted the story from their websites and remaining print editions and began making further enquiries.

During that process, the reporter received new information that cast doubt on the accuracy of the original story.

We withdraw the article and apologise for any unnecessary distress its publication may have caused Falconio’s friends and family.

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