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Tuesday, 1 December 2020

More than a million shoppers swamped the Debenhams website yesterday to snap up generous discounts as the department store tries to clear its stock before closing for good. The chain has become the latest high street casualty and will be liquidated in the New Year after rescue talks with JD Sport fell through, drawing a line under 242 years of trading and jeopardising 12,000 jobs. Debenhams has said it will open its 124 shops with a fire sale of its stock when the national lockdown ends tomorrow. Handbags, shoes, boots, watches and dresses are being slashed in price by as much as 70 per cent. The bargain bonanza has already sparked a scramble for cut-price products online, with people waiting in virtual queues to access the store's website. Late Tuesday night there was a 20-minute wait 'due to exceptional demand' with over 300,000 trying to get on to the website at one point, and the total number of shoppers topping one million. A bruising year for the retail sector amid the pandemic climaxed this week when both Debenhams and Sir Philip Green's Arcadia group collapsed. Arcadia, which owns Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Burton, tipped into administration, putting 13,000 jobs at risk. Sir Philip was urged to do his 'moral duty' and sell his £100million superyacht to support his Arcadia staff before Christmas and bailout the £350million black hole in their pension pot. Hundreds of thousands of shoppers have swamped the Debenhams website to snap up generous discounts as the department store tries to clear its stock before closing for good +56 Debenhams (pictured in Manchester today) are prepared for liquidation after 242 years of trading with 12,000 jobs at risk after JD Sports declined to buy the brand in the chaos caused by Arcadia's collapse +56 Hundreds of thousands of shoppers have swamped the Debenhams website to snap up generous discounts as the department store tries to clear its stock before closing for good Stock in cages is ready to be sold at a cut price in London from tomorrow - with customers encouraged to spend vouchers while they can on 'Wild Wednesday and buy with credit cards for refund protection +56 Stock in cages is ready to be sold at a cut price in London from tomorrow - with customers encouraged to spend vouchers while they can on 'Wild Wednesday and buy with credit cards for refund protection Chancellor Rishi Sunak has declared the Government 'stands ready' to help the 25,000 Debenhams and Arcadia workers in 'deeply worrying' times, adding: 'There are negotiations between various parties and the companies at the moment - particularly with regard to pensions - and it wouldn't be right for me to comment specifically on those'. Mr Sunak's offer of help came days after he used his spending review to commit the Government to spending £1trillion for the first time and revealed that borrowing would hit an unprecedented £400billion this year as he bankrolls the UK's response to coronavirus. It is not clear from Mr Sunak's statement whether taxpayers' money will be offered to Arcadia or Debenhams - or their pension schemes - but the 25,000 people they employ will be eligible for benefits if they are made redundant. Customers with gift cards are being urged to spend them as soon as possible with administrators expected to block their use in the coming weeks as the business winds down. But people who have ordered items for Christmas online are now panicking they may never arrive with no chance of a refund. Experts today called the collapse of the two giants one of the most 'devastating' weeks in the history of British retail with up to 25,000 workers put at risk of redundancy in the space of 12 hours. The number of job losses is so large it equates to losing the entire labour force of the UK fishing industry overnight. MailOnline research has found that since the first lockdown in March, 277,815 people in Britain have been put at risk of redundancy - or have lost their jobs - as high streets across the country are decimated by rising online sales, business mismanagement and months of lockdowns caused by the coronavirus crisis. Piles of goods are piling up in stores like this one in Oxford Street, which will close within weeks after a fire sale of stock (pictured) starting when the national lockdown ends tomorrow with the business expected to be liquidated by the end of the year +56 Piles of goods are piling up in stores like this one in Oxford Street, which will close within weeks after a fire sale of stock (pictured) starting when the national lockdown ends tomorrow with the business expected to be liquidated by the end of the year The price of handbags, shoes, boots, watches and dresses are already being slashed in price by 70% on the Debenhams website (pictured) +56 The price of handbags, shoes, boots, watches and dresses are already being slashed in price by 70% on the Debenhams website (pictured) A member of staff works inside the flagship branch of the Debenhams department store on December 1 ahead of tomorrow's fire sale +56 A member of staff works inside the flagship branch of the Debenhams department store on December 1 ahead of tomorrow's fire sale Monaco resident Sir Philip was seen over the weekend relaxing in Monaco, where he keeps the super yacht Lionheart +56 Monaco resident Sir Philip was seen over the weekend relaxing in Monaco, where he keeps the super yacht Lionheart The high street giant, which includes the Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton brands, has hired administrators from Deloitte after the coronavirus pandemic 'severely impacted' sales across its brands +56 The high street giant, which includes the Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton brands, has hired administrators from Deloitte after the coronavirus pandemic 'severely impacted' sales across its brands

 Martin Bashir was last night branded ‘a despicable rat’ for allegedly delaying justice for a Babes in the Wood murder victim.

The grieving mother of Karen Hadaway, who was murdered aged nine, said he took away her clothing for DNA testing but never returned it.

The BBC’s religion editor, who is under fire for allegedly tricking Princess Diana into giving her famous Panorama interview, was a rogue journalist, said Michelle Hadaway.

She showed a note signed by Mr Bashir in 1991 saying he was taking possession of the DNA-laden clothes. Yet to the family’s distress the reporter later claimed he did not remember ever meeting them.

Martin Bashir (pictured charging his electric car on November 18) was last night branded ¿a despicable rat¿ for allegedly delaying justice for a Babes in the Wood murder victim

Martin Bashir (pictured charging his electric car on November 18) was last night branded ‘a despicable rat’ for allegedly delaying justice for a Babes in the Wood murder victim

Nicola Fellows
Karen Hadaway

Victims: Nicola Fellows (left) and Karen Hadaway (right) were killed in 1986. Karen's grieving mother said Bashir took away her clothing for DNA testing but never returned it

It meant the items were not retested when detectives tried to bring prime suspect Russell Bishop to trial in 2004 for the killings 18 years earlier.

‘Martin Bashir is a despicable rat,’ Miss Hadaway, a 63-year-old charity worker, told The Sun. 

‘I believe the loss of Karen’s clothes could have seriously affected the hunt for my child’s killer.

‘And now he is being accused of lying to Princess Diana and her family to persuade her to do an interview for the BBC.’

Russel Bishop, 54, was finally convicted of the girls¿ murders in 2018, but it was without Karen¿s blood-stained sweatshirt and vest, which had been returned to her family after the first trial

Russel Bishop, 54, was finally convicted of the girls’ murders in 2018, but it was without Karen’s blood-stained sweatshirt and vest, which had been returned to her family after the first trial

Miss Hadaway said the BBC inquiry into the Diana scandal, which is being conducted by former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson, should be widened to include Mr Bashir’s other alleged misdemeanours. 

Karen and her friend Nicola Fellows, also nine, were murdered in Brighton in 1986.

Their bodies were left side by side, as if sleeping, in a forest den and they became known as the Babes in the Wood.

Eileen Fairweather, who worked alongside Mr Bashir on the 1991 BBC Public Eye documentary about the murders, said he had ‘added immeasurably to the pain’ of the Hadaway family. 

She alleged he had offered to arrange for DNA tests to be carried out on items of Karen’s clothing, but that the tests never took place and, when the documentary was dropped, he failed to return the clothing to the family.

Bishop had been acquitted in 1987 but when in 2004 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.

Miss Fairweather said: ‘The inquiry into the Diana incident really ought to be expanded to look at other incidents, if there is a pattern of behaviour here.

Michelle Johnson-Hadaway, 63, said: 'Martin Bashir is a despicable rat. I believe the loss of Karen¿s clothes could have seriously affected the hunt for my child¿s killer'

Michelle Johnson-Hadaway, 63, said: 'Martin Bashir is a despicable rat. I believe the loss of Karen’s clothes could have seriously affected the hunt for my child’s killer'When we met with the Hadaway family they were absolutely desperate for any ray of hope. His response when asked about the clothing some years later was appalling. Who knows whether Bishop might have been brought to justice quicker if the clothing had been found.

‘But also, questioning whether the meeting ever took place added immeasurably to the pain of the Hadaway family.’

Bishop, 54, was finally convicted of the girls’ murders in 2018, but it was without Karen’s blood-stained sweatshirt and vest, which had been returned to her family after the first trial.

The BBC said Mr Bashir was aware of the Babes in the Wood case but declined to comment further. The 57-year-old has been ill with coronavirus and has had a heart operation.

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