Martin Bashir’s ‘lost evidence’ did not delay the capture of the Babes in the Woods killer, the police have said.
Victim Karen Hadaway’s mum Michelle claimed Bashir took blood-stained clothing worn by Karen on the day of her murder and lost it.
Murderer Russell Bishop had walked free from his trial in 1987 after Karen and her friend Nicola Fellows, both nine, were found murdered in Brighton’s Wild Park the year before.
The roofer was finally found guilty of the murders in 2018, when DNA evidence from other clothes from the scene and the victims brought him to justice.
Michelle questioned whether Bishop could have been convicted earlier had it not been for Bashir allegedly losing the clothing, but police have denied this would have made a difference.
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said: “The reality is that although we are aware of this matter, it had no material impact whatsoever on the investigation then or later, or on the 2018 prosecution, and caused no delay.
“All forensic evidence needed had been already obtained from the clothing in 1986 and stored separately, including the DNA evidence which only became accessible many years later due to advances in forensic technology and which was crucial in securing Bishop’s eventual conviction.”
Michelle had claimed that in 1991, Bashir persuaded her to hand over Karen’s clothes as he told her he was making a BBC documentary about the mistakes in the case.
Bashir subsequently lost the clothes, it’s claimed, and when Sussex Police launched a cold case review in 2004 following improvements in DNA techniques, the clothing remained missing.
Michelle told The Sun : “I believe the loss of Karen’s clothes could have seriously affected the hunt for my child’s killer.”
The reporter told the family that new DNA techniques could provide a forensic breakthrough, according to the Daily Mail.
Michelle said the programme never aired and when she found the note years later she tried to find out what happened, and Bashir allegedly said he couldn’t remember meeting her.
She said he had “taken advantage” of her grief.
“[He] has never shown any remorse for the loss,” Michelle added.
“Bashir is a rogue journalist and it is unbelievable that he is still employed by the BBC.”
Ian Heffron, Nicola’s uncle and a retired police officer, had said both families had been “clutching at every straw” and saw the clothing as potentially “very important evidence”.
He said: “Bashir ran for cover and never came back to us.
“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.”
Michelle spoke after the news that Bashir will be investigated by the BBC over his 1994 Panorama interview with Princess Diana.
Diana’s brother Earl Spencer says Bashir showed him fake bank statements wrongly claiming to show two courtiers were being paid by security services for information on Diana to secure the interview.
The BBC has appointed former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson to investigate the claims.
Mirror Online has contacted representatives for Martin Bashir for comment.
A BBC spokesperson said: “IIn 2004 the BBC said this about this issue: ‘We have only recently learned that these items may have been in the possession of Public Eye in 1991.
“‘We have made extensive inquiries to track them down but without success.
“‘We will continue to look into this.’
“We are consulting our archived records to see if any progress was made with these inquiries.”