Mum of Babes in the Wood victim slams Martin Bashir 'dishonest rogue'

Mother of Babes in the Wood victim brands Martin Bashir ‘a dishonest rogue’ and calls for criminal investigation after claiming he delayed killer’s capture by losing her daughter’s blood-stained clothing

  • Karen Hadaway and friend Nicola Fellows were killed by Russell Bishop in 1986
  • Bashir allegedly told Karen’s family he could get the girl’s clothes DNA tested
  • But Karen’s mother claims they never saw the reporter, or the items, ever again
  • Police say they had all forensic evidence and it had no impact on investigation 

The mother of a Babes in the Wood murder victim has branded Martin Bashir ‘a dishonest rogue’ and called for a criminal investigation after she claimed he delayed the killer’s capture by losing her daughter’s blood-stained clothing.

The journalist, who has been condemned for his 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana, is said to have visited the grieving family of nine-year-old Karen Hadaway and took away the clothes she had been wearing.

Bashir allegedly promised to get the sweatshirt and vest she was wearing at the time of the tragedy DNA tested.  

But Karen’s mother, Michelle Johnson, claims the family never saw the reporter – or their daughter’s clothes – ever again and is now calling for a probe into his alleged actions, similar to the recent Dyson Report.

Asked today on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour if she would welcome an investigation into her experience, she replied: ‘Of course,’ adding that she will be speaking to lawyers.

Russell Bishop killed nine-year-old Karen and her friend Nicola Fellows in Wild Park in Brighton 1986 and is now serving a life sentence. 

But he was initially acquitted of the murders as the grieving families battled to try and secure justice, with Bashir allegedly proposing to help them achieve it.

The mother said today: ‘I can’t believe this reputable man who came to me all those years ago and told me he could help me as he worked for the BBC could turn out such a cheating a****hole. 

The mother of a Babes in the Wood murder victim has branded Martin Bashir (pictured) ‘a dishonest rogue and a ‘despicable rat’ after she claimed he delayed the killer’s capture by losing her daughter’s blood-stained clothing

Karen Hadaway’s mother, Michelle (pictured), claims Bashir took her daughter’s clothes and then never saw him, or the items, again

‘He needs exposing for the amount of pain he has put people through. The police need to investigate his terrible, fraudulent dealings which he has got away with for such a long time.

‘He was doing a programme called Public Eye. It was 1991, Russell Bishop had just been convicted of attacking a seven-year-old girl in Brighton but thank god she lived to identify him.

‘Bashir offered to take my Karen’s clothes and have them DNA tested as everyone was aware Bishop had been wrongly acquitted in 1987 of murdering my daughter and her friend.’

Mrs Johnson, who lives in Brighton, said Bashir signed a receipt for Karen’s clothing promising to let her know the results of DNA testing.

She said Bashir told her his investigation may take some time but that he would help them find justice.

Mrs Johnson said: ‘He took my dead daughters clothing and that was the last I ever saw of him.

‘He later said he could not remember meeting me or taking the clothes from me but he had sent a car from the BBC in London and actually took me there – how could he never remember that?

‘He was a despicable rat then and I still feel the same. He is a rogue, dishonest journalist who has preyed on people and used and abused them for his own means and purposes.

‘I was very vulnerable back then and was just happy to think that someone who was respected as him wanted to take the trouble to help.’


Karen Hadaway (left) and her friend Nicola Fellows, both nine, were sexually assaulted and strangled to death by Russell Bishop (right) in bushes in Wild Park in 1986

She said: ‘He has proved to be a very dishonest man who has made thousands and thousands of pounds out of everyone else’s misery.

‘He has profiteered at the expense of others. I for one have never had an apology for his shoddy and disgusting piece of journalism. You can run but where can this despicable rat hide?’ 

When Sussex Police launched a cold case review and requested the return of the potentially crucial evidence, Mr Bashir allegedly claimed he had no recollection of encountering the family. 

It meant the items were not retested when detectives tried to bring prime suspect Bishop to trial in 2004 for the shocking killings. 

But he later responded to the allegations in an interview with the Times, saying: ‘I may have lost it but I don’t remember.’ 

Karen Hadaway and her friend Nicola Fellows, both nine, were sexually assaulted and strangled to death by Bishop in bushes in Wild Park in 1986.

Bishop was arrested and charged with the murders but he was acquitted after his long-time girlfriend, Jennifer Johnson, lied about a key piece of evidence.

After advances in DNA testing he was rearrested, tried and convicted of the double murders in 2018 and sentenced to 36 years behind bars.

As a result Johnson, now 55, was charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice and was last week jailed for six years after being convicted at Lewes Crown Court. 

A Sussex Police spokesman told the Argus: ‘Although we have been 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.

‘We have previously explained it to Karen’s family and have nothing to add now.’

 The BBC and representatives for Bashir have been approached for comment.

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