The family of the man wrongly convicted of killing Jill Dando in 1999 want the Met Police to investigate claims she was mistakenly killed by a Russian hitman
The family of Barry George, who was wrongly convicted of Jill Dando’s murder, say they have no confidence Met police will investigate claims she was killed in a case of mistaken identity.
Mr George’s sister Michelle Diskin Bates said she always believed police knew her freed brother, now 62, was not guilty of killing the Crimewatch host.
Now, documents presented to a Paris court suggest Jill may have been killed by mistake in 1999 by a Russian hitman intent on targeting another BBC journalist.
Court documents claim the killer was hired by French fashion mogul Gerald Marie, who had been accused of multiple sexual assaults, to assassinate journalist Lisa Brinkworth.
Ms Brinkworth wrote in the Daily Mail last month how she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Mr Marie when she went undercover to expose his agency, Elite Model Management.
Lawyers are reportedly arguing that the mix-up may have stemmed from the two journalists’ similarities in appearance, their profession and the fact that they both lived in the same area of London.
It was also stated that Jill’s fiancé, Alan Farthing, had been Lisa’s doctor.
Lawyers in the documents refer to a conversation witnessed by former Elite executive Omar Harfouch in which Mr Marie allegedly ordered a member of the Russian mafia to “deal with an issue”.
The documents from the French law firm Bourdon Associes allegedly state: “Shortly afterwards … a BBC journalist, Jill Dando, was shot dead in April 1999.”
Michelle told the Mirror: “If that can be proven then it’s huge.
“But this will make the Dando family, who have always been told by police they had the right person, realize just how badly they have been let down.
“There are two families in the middle of a riot. If that’s true, how could the police get it so wrong? We had to live with that every day.”
Barry was denied wrongful conviction compensation in 2013.
Michelle added: “The biggest thing for Barry would be if this is proven he gets the compensation he deserves?
“We never believed the police believed he was guilty, we know serving officers who don’t believe he did.
“We have to see how this story plays out. Barry will not be “free” unless they have 100% proof that someone else did.
“Do I have faith that they will fully and properly investigate this latest story? No I haven’t, not at all.”
She called for “external police” to investigate the case. However, Mr Marie claims links to the Dando case were “made up to try to overturn the statute of limitations” – referring to French laws which meant sexual assault had to be reported within three years and rape within 10 years.
One of his lawyers said yesterday: “It is fanciful nonsense aimed at suggesting that Lisa Brinkworth feared for her life and was therefore too afraid to report the alleged attack within a reasonable time.
“In fact, Lisa Brinkworth made no effort whatsoever to report sexual abuse at the time and only began taking action decades later.”
Ms Brinkworth claims she was held in a safe house after her exposé was broadcast on the BBC program MacIntyre Investigates, presented by journalist Donal MacIntyre. Ms Brinkworth also claims that according to the legal documents, the BBC did not want her to take legal action.
They say that Lebanese businessman and politician Mr. Harfouch, now 53, was in a Paris restaurant with senior elite management in 1999 when they discussed the MacIntytre program.
“We’re in shit,” Marie reportedly told the others after learning the undercover exposé about Elite was about to air.
Ms Brinkworth, then 31, pretended to be a model and Mr Marie is said to have said: “I was tricked.”
He is said to have subsequently described Ms Brinkworth as a “huge problem”.
Vitali Leiba, an elite agent with allegedly strong ties to the Russian mafia, reportedly replied, “Consider it done.” Mr. Harfouch claims this is an indirect reference to “Do [Brinkworth] disappear,” says the legal papers.
The Harfouch testimony is being used by attorneys for 15 plaintiffs, including Ms Brinkworth, to try to overturn the statute of limitations.
AFP via Getty Images)
In a file sent to Paris prosecutors, William Bourdon, Amelie Lefebvre and Anne-Claire Lejeune refer to “the fear of physical reprisals, up to and including contract killing, and a filing of a complaint by Lisa Brinkworth within the requisite.” prevent the timeframe that Gerald Marie accuses of sexual assault in her report.”
The attorneys’ report adds: “They are therefore asking for an extension of the statute of limitations in an unprecedented proceeding, paving the way for a future trial.”
Ms Brinkworth wrote of the nightclub incident involving Mr Marie: “He became more adamant and demanded that I sleep with him.
“Our documentary showed how Marie proposed sex to me for a million lire. But what happened next wasn’t broadcast. To my horror, he walked over to my chair, straddled me and repeatedly jabbed my lower abdomen to fake sex.”
A Met Police spokesman said: “As with all homicide investigations, the investigation into Ms Dando’s murder remains open.
“We will always review any new information that may become available.”
Mr George was convicted in 2001 of shooting dead Jill, 37, on her doorstep. At a retrial in 2008, he was unanimously acquitted when it was found that a tiny particle of gunpowder residue found in a jacket pocket – which contributed to his conviction – was so small it was admissible as evidence.
He now lives in Ireland.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/family-man-wrongly-convicted-jill-27342708 Family of man wrongly convicted of Jill Dando's murder 'has no faith' in Met investigation