Martin Bashir broke his silence yesterday to claim he ‘loved’ Princess Diana and brazenly insisted it was ‘unreasonable and unfair’ to blame him for her death.
The disgraced former BBC reporter admitted he was ‘wrong’ to show Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, forged bank statements ahead of his landmark Panorama interview with her in 1995.
But he stressed: ‘It had no bearing on [Diana], it had no bearing on the interview.’ Bashir, 58, was speaking out for the first time since former judge Lord Dyson savaged him in a report last week for the ‘deceitful and dishonest’ tactics he used to gain access to the princess.
Apology to princes…
He told Diana’s sons William and Harry he was ‘deeply sorry’ and said the princes are in his thoughts, adding: ‘I can’t imagine what their family must feel each day.’
But he did not accept the Duke of Cambridge’s accusation that he fuelled his mother’s ‘fear, paranoia and isolation’. Bashir claimed: ‘Even in the early 1990s, there were stories and secretly-recorded phone calls. I wasn’t the source of any of that.’
…But not for Diana
Martin Bashir insisted he and his family loved Princess Diana and the interview had ‘no bearing’ on her death
In an interview, the journalist failed to accept he had wronged the princess, insisting: ‘I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did.
‘Everything we did in terms of the interview was as she wanted – from when she wanted to alert the Palace, to when it was broadcast, to its contents… My family and I loved her,’ he told the Sunday Times. The rogue reporter defended the interview by maintaining that Diana was happy with the programme and the pair had remained friends.
He showed off a letter from the princess, written on November 21, 1995 – the day after it was broadcast – in which she said: ‘Thank you, Martin, for listening to me, for supporting me and for understanding this particular lady.’
We were friends
The once-celebrated reporter insisted he was such good friends with Diana that she visited St George’s Hospital in south London after his wife Deborah gave birth to their third child, Eliza, in March 1996. Bashir brandished photos of the occasion and added: ‘We were friends. She was spectacular.
‘She said to me: “You must let me know the moment the baby arrives” and, an hour later, there was a knock on the delivery room and in she walked.’
He also showed off another letter in which Diana invited the couple on holiday to Scotland after Deborah developed pleurisy. He told how he and Diana bonded over a programme he had made about post-natal depression, which his wife had suffered from.
Bashir said: ‘Diana talked about her own experience of post-natal depression. She spoke about bulimia a bit.
‘She also said something like – and this is hard to recall and I didn’t take notes – she said something about feeling suicidal.’
Bashir, who landed lucrative jobs in the US after his Diana scoop and bought a £1.9million London home with cash, insisted he had never profited financially from his relationship with the princess.
Earl Spencer dig
The reporter also rejected claims by Earl Spencer, who last week linked his sister’s death in a Paris car crash in 1997 to the interview.
He said: ‘I don’t feel I can be held responsible for many of the other things that were going on in her life and the complex issues surrounding those decisions.
Bashir rejected claims by Earl Spencer (pictured) who last week linked his sister’s death in a Paris car crash in 1997 to the interview
‘I can understand the motivation [of Earl Spencer’s comments], but to channel the tragedy, the difficult relationship between the Royal Family and the media purely on to my shoulders feels a little unreasonable…The suggestion I am singularly responsible, I think, is unreasonable and unfair.’
Bashir also claimed Diana’s relationship with Earl Spencer was ‘very difficult’.
He said: ‘Fairly soon after we met, she didn’t want me to communicate with him. She felt he would leak details of the interview and stuff, and felt that he wasn’t trustworthy.’
Bashir admitted showing the earl – who Lord Dyson found to be a ‘credible and convincing witness’ – forged bank statements, but denied the timeline of events established by the former judge.
The BBC’s former religion editor maintains that he presented the documents only after he had been introduced to Diana.
He said: ‘Obviously, I regret it – it was wrong.
‘But it had no bearing on anything. It had no bearing on [Diana], it had no bearing on the interview.’
He said Diana had no hesitations about the programme and, in fact, was concerned that the Palace would try to stop it.
Bashir said he wished people would focus on how ‘pioneering’ the princess was to speak about mental health and infidelity rather than the scandal over how he got her to sit down with him for the Panorama interview. He stressed: ‘I did something wrong…but, for pity’s sake, acknowledge something of the relationship we had and something of what she contributed through that interview.’
Jacko family fury
Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that the family of Michael Jackson are considering suing Bashir for using dirty tricks in his 2003 documentary about the singer, Living With Michael Jackson.
After it aired, the pop legend complained he felt he had been tricked by Bashir. Taj Jackson – son of Michael Jackson’s older brother Tito – said yesterday that the film contributed to his uncle’s death in 2009. He said Bashir used ‘manipulated footage’ and ‘unethical’ practices in the documentary.
Taj Jackson – son of Michael Jackson’s older brother Tito- said the film contributed to the King of Pop’s death
Tito, 67, added: ‘He used Michael’s trust and friendship with Diana to get the interview, manipulated Michael throughout the interview, then deceptively edited the footage.’
A maternity nurse, who was at the centre of a surrogacy story, told how Bashir even ironed her clothes in a bid to win her trust and persuade her to appear on Panorama. Karen Roche-Pearson, who had agreed to be a surrogate but then kept the baby, said he convinced her to appear on a 1997 programme by promising that she would be portrayed as a victim.
A nurse told how Bashir even ironed her clothes in a bid to win her trust to appear on Panorama
The 55-year-old mother, from Beverley, East Yorkshire, told the Sunday Mirror: ‘I met him three times when he came to do Panorama. He was such a creep and would pretend to be nice by doing my ironing. He’d say, “Oh, let me do that for you”.
‘But the show wasn’t what he said it was going to be. It was supposed to be on my side.’ She said she felt he ‘totally lied’, adding: ‘I was a really big fan of Princess Diana and he was saying to me, “I did the famous Diana interview”. He was using it to persuade me.’