Martin Bashir is accused of failing family of one of the ‘Babes in the Wood’ murder victims

Martin Bashir ‘took clothes of Babes in the Wood murder victim which may have been key evidence – but never returned them to her relatives’

  • Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway were found murdered in Wild Park, Brighton  
  • Desperate to find killer, Karen’s mother allowed Mr Bashir to take her clothes
  • Claims they were taken to help in new DNA techniques and a BBC documentary

The family of one of the victims of the notorious ‘Babes in the Wood’ murders have accused BBC journalist Martin Bashir of failing them while seeking to advance his own career.

Mr Bashir, whose Panorama interview with Princess Diana in 1995 is being investigated by a former Supreme Court judge, last night found himself under renewed criticism for allegedly losing potentially key evidence in the case.

Nicola Fellows and her friend Karen Hadaway, both aged nine, were found murdered in Brighton’s Wild Park in 1986. Five years later and desperate to find the killer, Karen’s mother Michelle allowed Mr Bashir to take away her daughter’s clothes, which had been returned by police.

Karen Hadaway was discovered in the woods with her friend

Nicola Fellows and her friend Karen Hadaway, both aged nine, were found murdered in Brighton’s Wild Park in 1986

It is claimed the reporter told the family that new DNA techniques could provide a forensic breakthrough and form part of a BBC documentary. The clothes then went missing and have never been returned.

Last night, Ian Heffron, 65, Nicola’s uncle and a retired police officer, said both families had been ‘clutching at every straw’ and saw the clothing as potentially ‘very important evidence’. When they were not returned, he says he pursued Mr Bashir and the BBC about the matter.

‘Bashir ran for cover and never came back to us,’ he said. ‘In the end we had to give up on it. He must have done something with the clothing. Did he just put it on a shelf to gather dust? To say the least, I was bitterly disappointed that somebody of his stature, who could have helped us, very badly let us down. Bashir’s actions to my mind were very unprofessional. I think his agenda was himself.’

It is claimed Mr Bashir gave Karen’s family a receipt for the clothes. Mr Heffron said he faxed a copy to a BBC producer who confirmed it was the journalist’s signature. This receipt is now also believed to be lost. ‘Eventually Bashir did respond,’ said Mr Heffron. ‘I asked him what he did with the clothing. 

His reaction was, “I don’t recall ever taking the clothing.” ’ Another member of Nicola’s family, who asked not to be identified, said: ‘Martin Bashir’s behaviour was absolutely disgusting. He built up our hopes, planning to advance his reputation – and then he failed us.’

The BBC said in 2004 that it had made ‘extensive inquiries’ into the missing clothes ‘without success’. Sex offender Russell Bishop was later convicted of the murders.

It's claimed the reporter told the family that new DNA techniques could provide a forensic breakthrough and form part of a BBC documentary. The clothes then went missing and have never been returne

It’s claimed the reporter told the family that new DNA techniques could provide a forensic breakthrough and form part of a BBC documentary. The clothes then went missing and have never been returne

Last night the BBC said: ‘We will consult our archived records to see if any progress was made with these inquiries.’ Mr Bashir did not respond to a request for comment.

The fresh criticism of the reporter came as Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, said he was ‘not at all satisfied’ by the parameters of an inquiry set up by the BBC into Mr Bashir’s Panorama interview with the Princess. He wants Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls who is commissioned to carry out the investigation, to be ‘free to examine every aspect of this matter, from 1995 to today, as he sees fit’.

Mr Bashir is alleged to have told lies and smeared Royal aides to win the trust of Diana and land his interview.

Meanwhile, Prince Harry has reportedly signalled his support for the investigation. A source close to the Duke of Sussex described the probe as a ‘drive for truth’. His brother Prince William has already ‘tentatively’ welcomed the inquiry.

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