BBC reaches settlement with murdered girl’s mother over lost clothing

The BBC has reached a settlement with the mother of a murdered schoolgirl who said Martin Bashir took her daughter’s clothes and never returned them.

In 1991, Michelle Hadaway gave the clothes to the then BBC reporter for DNA tests for BBC Two’s social affairs programme Public Eye, but the investigation did not air and her calls to the broadcaster were ignored.

The clothes belonged to nine-year-old schoolgirl Karen Hadaway, who was found sexually assaulted and strangled alongside Nicola Fellows in a woodland den in Brighton in October 1986, in what became known as the Babes In The Wood murders.

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

Pride of Britain Awards 2019 – London
Martin Bashir (Ian West/PA)

However, BBC investigators were unable to locate the clothing.

Bishop, who died in January 2022 aged 55, was jailed in 2018 for a minimum of 36 years after being convicted of the murders of Fellows and Hadaway.

In 2021, the BBC conducted a review of the case in a fresh bid to try to locate the clothing and an investigator spoke with Bashir.

Director-general Tim Davie later apologised to the family but said “regrettably 30 years on, little more can be done to find the missing clothes”.

On Thursday, a BBC spokesperson said: “We have today reached a settlement with Michelle Hadaway in relation to the loss of the clothes of her daughter, Karen.

“In 1991, Mrs Hadaway entrusted the BBC with the missing clothes on the understanding that they would be forensically examined.

Russell Bishop court case
Murdered Brighton schoolgirls Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows (PA)

“We should have taken better care of Karen’s clothes and we did not.

“We accept that we had a duty of care to Mrs Hadaway and we fell well short of that and we have previously apologised to her privately. We are very sorry.”

The terms of the settlement were not revealed.

The story of the lost clothing re-emerged following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report on the 1995 Panorama interview with the late Diana, Princess of Wales, where reporter Bashir was found to have deceived the princess in order to obtain his exclusive interview with her.

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