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.
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.
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.’
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.
‘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.