Jill Dando may have been 'murdered by mistake' after hitman shot wrong journalist

27 June 2022, 10:05 | Updated: 27 June 2022, 10:42

Was Jill Dando murdered by mistake?
Was Jill Dando murdered by mistake? Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Stephen Rigley

Jill Dando may have been gunned down on her doorstep by mistake by a Russian hitman who meant to target another journalist, shocking documents submitted to a Paris court suggest.

Papers submitted to a Paris court allege Elite model agency boss Gerald Marie - who is accused of raping several women - wanted BBC journalist Lisa Brinkworth "dealt with" in revenge for her exposing his firm.

But the hitman could have mistaken Jill Dando for the actual target, the documents say as lawyers reportedly argue the mix up may have taken place due to the similarities between Ms Dando and Ms Brinkworth

It was also said that Jill's fiance, Alan Farthing, was Lisa's doctor.

Lawyers in the documents refer to a conversation witnessed by former Elite executive Omar Harfouch in which Marie ordered a member of the Russian mafia to "deal with a problem," the Daily Mail reports.

The documents from French law firm Bourdon Associes reportedly say: "Shortly thereafter… a BBC journalist, Jill Dando, was shot dead in April 1999."I

Both of the women were blonde, in their 30s and of similar height and stature.

Jill Dando
Jill Dando. Picture: Alamy
Lisa Brinkworth
Lisa Brinkworth. Picture: Getty

Jill was gunned down in the middle of the day on her doorstep in Fulham, London, on April 26, 1999.

The brutal slaying of the Crimewatch presenter remains one of the most infamous unsolved crimes in the UK of the last 20 years and although stalker Barry George was convicted in 2001, he was acquitted in 2008 and the investigation remains open.

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Miss Brinkworth alleges she was assaulted after a dinner with friends and Marie, when he pinned her down to a chair at a club.

Gerald Marie, 72, the former boss of the Elite modelling agency, is being investigated over alleged sexual assaults and rapes involving at least 11 women.

Flowers left at Jill Dando murder scene
Flowers left at Jill Dando murder scene. Picture: Alamy
Police work at Jill Dando murder scene
Police work at Jill Dando murder scene. Picture: Alamy

Ms Brinkworth is one of the women who has levelled accusations against the mogul - claiming he assaulted her in 1998 while she was working undercover for the corporation to expose sex crimes in the fashion industry.

The former journalist was kept in safe houses following the scoop and it's claimed she was urged not to take legal action against Marie.

Under French laws, sexual abuse claims must be reported within 20 years - but papers reveal the lawyers argue the statute should be overlooked in the case as she spent years fearing for her safety.