Fashion boss denies his hitman killed Jill Dando in mistaken identity shooting
A fashion boss has denied his hitman gunned down Jill Dando in a case of mistaken identity.
Gerald Marie, 72, has been accused of using the Russian Mafia to try and kill Lisa Brinkworth, now 55, a BBC journalist who exposed him as a sex abuser.
But the gunman may have assassinated TV presenter Ms Dando according to extraordinary allegations in legal papers filed in Paris.
However the fashion boss has described the allegations he hired the bungling killer as “fanciful nonsense”.
Lawyers reportedly argued the mix up may have been due to the similarities in the appearance of the two women, their occupation, and the fact they both lived in the same area of London.
In the legal documents, Ms Brinkworth is described as being “blonde, and of the same height and similar build; as Jill Dando”. They were also neighbours in Fulham.
AFP via Getty Images)
The notorious cold case has been flung wide open once again as Ms Brinkworth has claimed Marie wanted her dead after she claimed he sexually assaulted her in 1998, when she was working undercover to expose crimes in the fashion industry.
In the court papers, Ms Brinkworth’s lawyers reference an alleged conversation witnessed by a former Elite agency executive in which Marie considered hiring the Russian mafia to “deal with a problem”.
The papers read: “Shortly afterwards, in April 1999, Jill Dando, another BBC journalist, was shot dead.”
France’s statue of legal limitations for prosecutions at the time meant that sexual assault had to be reported in three years, and rapes within a decade.
Marie is claiming, because of this, that the accusations have been “made up so as to try and get the statute of limitations removed”.
Alamy Stock Photo)
One of his legal team said today: “It’s fanciful nonsense aimed at suggesting that Lisa Brinkworth was in fear of her life, and so was too scared to report the alleged attack within a reasonable time limit.
“In fact, Lisa Brinkworth made no effort to report any kind of sexual abuse at the time, and only started to take action decades later.”
Ms Brinkworth claims she was kept in a safe house following the broadcasting of her exposé on the BBC’s MacIntyre Investigates programme, presented by veteran journalist Donal MacIntyre.
She also said that the BBC did not want her taking legal action, according to the papers.
They say that Omar Harfouch, who is now 53 and a Lebanese businessman and politician, was with senior Elite management at a Paris restaurant in 1999, when they discussed the MacIntytre programme.
Marie is said to have told others “We’re in the s***” after learning about the report.
He said he “got tricked” after Ms Brinkworth, then 31, pretended to be a fashion model and the fashion boss described her as a “huge problem”.
To this, Vitali Leiba, an Elite agent based in Moscow and allegedly with strong links to the Russian Mafia replied: “Consider it done”.
Mr Harfouch claims this was an oblique reference to “making [Brinkworth] disappear,” according to the legal papers.
The Harfouch testimony is now being used by lawyers for 15 plaintiffs – including Ms Brinkworth – to try and get the statute of limitations thrown out.
In a file sent to Paris prosecutors, William Bourdon, Amélie Lefebvre and Anne-Claire Lejeune refer to “the fear of physical reprisals, going as far as a contract killing, preventing a filing of a complaint within the required time frame by Lisa Brinkworth, who accuses Gerald Marie of sexual assault in the context of her report.”
The lawyers’ report adds: “They are therefore requesting, in an unprecedented approach, an extension of the limitation period, paving the way for a future trial.”
Paris prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into Marie in September 2020, after he was accused of rape and sexual assault by the 15 women.
However, all of the alleged facts took place in the 1980s and 1990s, making them time barred as far as prosecutions are concerned so Marie remains a free man.
The BBC aired the MacIntrye programme in November 1999, and it alleged that Ms Brinkworth was attacked in a nightclub in Milan, Italy, in October 1998.
In her complaint finally filed to the French legal authorities on September 20, 2020, Ms Brinkworth describes an “obscene atmosphere” created by Marie, who allegedly asked her to “perform oral sex” on Elite executive and to ‘let me f*** you’ for money.
Ms Brinkworth was told: “No one refuses the president of Elite and it’s an honour to sleep with this man,” according to the legal papers.
Elite executives were said to be “laughing and applauding” as Marie allegedly forced himself onto Ms Brinkworth, leaving her fearful she would be raped.
Film footage shows Ms Brinkworth straight after the incident, telling Mr MacIntyre about what happened.
Elite sued the BBC over the allegations, and in 2001 the Corporation agreed never to broadcast the programme again, as part of a confidentiality agreement.
Ms Brinkworth was not part of that agreement and so, according to the latest legal documents, pressure was put on her by Elite to stay silent.
She says she was given protection by the BBC for three years, between 1999 and 2001, and put in three safe houses, at least one of which was surrounded by electric fences.
A spokesman for the Paris prosecutors office confirmed that the enquiry into Gerald Marie was ‘ongoing’, and that nobody had been arrested or charged.
A spokesperson for the Met Police said: “The investigation into the murder of Ms Dando remains open, as with all murder investigations. We will always explore any new information which may become available.”
Most Related Links :
Public News Time Latest News Sports News Finance News Automobile News