Martin Bashir, a disgraced ex-BBC reporter finally admits that he took the clothes of Karen Hadaway, a nine-year old schoolgirl who was murdered – seventeen years after swearing not to remember.

  • Karen Hadaway, Nicola Fellows and Nicola were both murdered in Brighton in June 1986.
  • Martin Bashir persuaded Karen’s mother, in 1991, to give her clothing.
  • Bashir informed Ms Hadaway he’d get DNA testing done on the objects to determine the identity of the killer.
  • Following the loss of his daughter’s clothing, he has written Ms Hadaway to apologize.  

Disgraced former BBC reporter Martin Bashir has admitted he took the clothes of a murdered nine-year-old girl that were then lost – after claiming for almost 20 years he could not remember doing so.

In a handwritten letter to the girl’s mother Michelle Hadaway, seen by The Mail on Sunday, Bashir accepted for the first time that he worked on a BBC programme about her daughter Karen’s murder and had been entrusted with her clothes.

He said he was ‘deeply sorry’ that the clothing in which Karen was murdered – which he revealed he took ‘to the BBC’ – went missing.

Karen Hadaway, her friend Nicola Fellows and their murder in Brighton in 1986 was what would become known as the Babes in the Wood shootings. Russell Bishop, a roofer, was only convicted in 2018. He’d been acquitted at an earlier trial in 1987.

Disgraced former BBC reporter Martin Bashir, pictured centre, has written to Michelle Hadaway and admitted he took and lost her daughter Karen's clothes. The reporter claimed he needed the garments to test them for DNA to identify her daughter's murderer

Martin Bashir (pictured center), a disgraced ex-BBC reporter, wrote to Michelle Hadaway admitting that he had taken and lost Karen’s clothes. According to the reporter, he wanted to examine Karen’s clothes for DNA testing to determine if he was her murderer.

Bashir had initially denied taking the clothes while he was researching BBC programme on the murders of Karen Hadaway and her friend Nicola Fellows in Brighton in 1986

Bashir had initially denied taking the clothes while he was researching BBC programme on the murders of Karen Hadaway and her friend Nicola Fellows in Brighton in 1986

Karen Hadaway, pictured, was murdered along with her friend Nicola Fellows, by roofer Russell Bishop

Karen Hadaway (pictured) was assassinated with her friend Nicola Fellows by Russell Bishop, a roofer

In 1991, Bashir, who was then working for the BBC programme Public Eye, persuaded Karen’s grieving mother to hand over the clothes after promising to subject them to DNA tests in the hope of identifying the killer.

They were requested by the family to be returned to them in 2004, so that they could be handed to Sussex Police.

Despite Bashir leaving Michelle with a signed receipt, his agent John Miles said in 2004 that the reporter ‘genuinely couldn’t remember anything about the case’.

Asked about the clothing in May this year, Bashir said: ‘I may have lost it but I don’t remember.’

In November, The Mail on Sunday revealed that BBC Director General Tim Davie had offered the Corporation’s ‘sincere apologies’ to Ms Hadaway after a new inquiry had failed to track down the clothes, which included Karen’s school sweatshirt, T-shirt, knickers and vest. Bashir was also requested to apologize directly to Ms Hadaway. The MoS can reveal that two weeks later Phil Harrold, Mr Davie’s chief of staff, sent Ms Hadaway a sealed envelope containing Bashir’s 242-word handwritten letter.

‘Martin Bashir has sent us the enclosed envelope to pass on to you,’ Mr Harrold said. ‘We have not opened this… and nor are we aware of its contents.’

In the letter, Bashir confirmed that Ms Hadaway had ‘kindly’ met with him and provided Karen’s clothing in the hope that it would help research for an ‘important programme’. He acknowledged that the loss of the clothes must have added to Ms Hadaway’s pain and suffering – something he described as ‘a matter of deep regret’.

Ms Hadaway last night branded Bashir’s apology as ‘utter nonsense’ and ‘too little, too late’. She added: ‘When I met him, my husband had just had a breakdown and been in hospital for seven weeks – completely broken because he couldn’t do anything about his little girl’s killer. Our last hope was the BBC.

‘We’d been let down by everyone. Bashir spent hours with me, we met twice – how could he have forgotten me? His pretense that he hadn’t met me made me feel even more powerless. Shortly after, my husband succumbed to a heart attack. His heart was broken, literally.’

Her anger is also expressed by Bashir’s letter, in which he highlighted how Sussex Police had already gathered the forensic evidence required from the clothes that were missing.

‘The original forensics were a disaster,’ she said. ‘That’s why the BBC were planning a programme.’

Former detective inspector Bill Warner told the MoS that the clothing would have been very useful to police for their forensic testing in 2004.

Ms Hadaway seeks legal counsel and may pursue compensation from the BBC.

Bashir, the BBC’s former Religion Editor, quit the Corporation in May before the publication of a damning report by former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson into the deception he deployed to land his 1995 interview with Princess Diana.