In 1996 she returned to London joining the BBC's international news channel BBC World. She was the duty presenter in the early hours of 31 August 1997 when news broke of the car crash of Diana, Princess of Wales. Although she was soon replaced by the channel's senior presenter Nik Gowing, she continued to give updates on the story throughout the night. She can be seen in this role in the 2006 feature film The Queen.
In November 1997 she joined BBC News (then BBC News 24) as one of the launch presenters. Since then she has presented various timeslots on the channel, including a period in the afternoon slot alongside Matthew Amroliwala and Chris Eakin, before being shifted to Sunday afternoons in April 2006. She has since also taken on the Saturday and Monday morning slots and the Friday afternoon slot as well as also regularly covering other shifts on the channel. Mawhinney also appears on the BBC News at One weekend lunchtime bulletins as part of her weekend shifts. In the past she has also presented BBC Breakfast and the BBC One O'Clock News.
In March 2011, Mawhinney covered a majority of news time on the BBC News Channel for the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami over the weekend after it occurred on 11 March 2011.
She currently presents from 1400-1830 on Saturdays or Sundays and sometimes Monday or Friday afternoons.
Mawhinney is married with two daughters. She was diagnosed with cancer in early 2014 after a holiday to Australia. She is undergoing radiotherapy and was back in the studio in March 2014. She said, via Twitter, "Prognosis very good and I'm very positive."
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