BBC failed to properly search for murder victim’s lost clothes – report

The BBC failed to conduct a proper search for the clothes of a murdered schoolgirl which were taken by journalist Martin Bashir and never returned, according to a Mail on Sunday investigation.

Michelle Hadaway says Bashir obtained the clothes for DNA testing for BBC Two’s Public Eye program 30 years ago, but the investigation was not broadcast and her calls to the broadcaster were ignored.

Ms Hadaway’s daughter Karen and her friend Nicola Fellows were found sexually assaulted and strangled in a wooded lair in Brighton in October 1986 during what became the Babes in the Wood murder.

The families of the two girls have spent decades fighting for justice after their killer, Russell Bishop, was initially found not guilty of their murders in 1987.

Michelle Hadaway, mother of Karen Hadaway (Gareth Fuller / PA)

Ms Hadaway had previously said that Bashir came to see her in 1991 and requested that the DNA of her daughter’s clothes be tested, claiming that science had advanced in the five years since the murders, but had failed never returned the clothes.

According to a Mail on Sunday investigation, the BBC’s 2004 investigation unit did not make contact with key people who may have known the whereabouts of the clothes, including the families of the victims, journalists who reported worked on the documentary Babes In The Wood and Bashir himself.

The BBC dismissed the allegations as “incorrect” but said it was conducting a review of the case in a new attempt to try to locate the clothes.

A BBC spokesperson said: “It is incorrect to suggest that in 2004 the BBC’s investigative unit did not make contact with people who may have known the whereabouts of the clothes.

“Records show that people have been contacted, including the editor-in-chief of Public Eye and a reporter from Public Eye. Martin Bashir was contacted through his agent, who told us that Martin was unable to help us locate the clothes.

“We have said that we are continuing to review this matter after the Dyson investigation. We asked a former senior BBC executive to review what happened in this case, including the 2004 investigation, and see if anything was missed that could help us locate the clothes.

The broadcaster also apologized to Ms Hadaway, adding that he was “appalled” that the clothes were lost.

Russell Bishop court case
Brighton’s murdered schoolgirls Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows (PA)

“The BBC is extremely sorry for the distress this has caused Ms Hadaway and we deeply regret that we were unable to give her any response as to what happened,” a BBC spokesperson said.

“We are dismayed that these clothes were lost after being obtained as part of an investigation for a BBC program.

“We will continue to monitor any new information we receive on the whereabouts of the clothing. We will of course discuss all of this with Ms. Hadaway if and when she wishes. “

The Dyson investigation ended with a dazzling report from Lord Dyson criticizing the methods Bashir used to secure his incendiary 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Metropolitan Police recently announced that they would not launch a criminal investigation into the interview.

BBC chief executive Tim Davie is due to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee on Tuesday.

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