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Princess Diana’s voice coach dismisses claims she was duped into Panorama interview

Stewart Pearce, who is in his late 60s, met the Princess of Wales in 1995, shortly after she had given the BBC Panorama interview

Princess Diana’s former voice coach has dismissed claims she was duped into a Panorama interview by Martin Bashir and insisted she went into it with her ‘eyes wide open’.

Stewart Pearce, who is in his late 60s, met the Princess of Wales in 1995, shortly after she had given the BBC interview.

Mr Pearce worked closely with Diana for the last two years of her life and they were friends, even spending time in New York together.

Mr Pearce disputed there was anything ‘nefarious’ about what Diana experienced in the interview.

The BBC inquiry into the piece is now scrutinising a handwritten letter from the Royal which apparently showers the shamed journalist with praise.

Mr Pearce, who has worked with politicians including Margaret Thatcher and Tony Benn, said: ‘Diana went into that interview with her eyes wide open. She told me.

‘Her post-Bashir considerations formed the premise for the two of us to meet, so of course we talked about it.

‘It was pure liberation for her – she was very relieved and very vindicated by it. I don’t know that there was any nefarious process involved.

‘I met Martin Bashir a few years ago, and he didn’t appear to me to be unscrupulous. He illustrated a profound moral code.’

Mr Pearce disputed there was anything 'nefarious' about what Diana (pictured) experienced in the interview

Pictured: Bashir

Mr Pearce disputed there was anything ‘nefarious’ about what Diana (left) experienced in the interview with Bashir (right)

Mr Pearce added the ‘revolution’ Diana began after her interview with Bashir has been the catalyst for movements like the ‘Me Too’ campaign today.

The voice coach and author has spoken out ahead of the release of his new book, ‘Diana The Voice of Change’, set to be released next month through publishing house Echo Point.

It comes just days after veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil told CNN Bashir allegedly instilled a sense of ‘paranoia’ in Princess Diana, that prompted her to give up her security team after the interview.

But Mr Pearce said: ‘Diana eventually found her personal protection officers to be like a straitjacket.

‘She found their presence quite suffocating, and wanted to experience a liberated quality of life.

‘From the moment of that interview, she wanted to reveal her authenticity. She wanted to change the image of herself, and the rythym of the way she spoke.

‘If you listen to how she spoke before that interview, she used a falling inflection, so that she always sounded intimidated by what she was saying, rather than in management of the situation.

‘It was a revolutionary time for Diana. The Bashir interview became an extraordinary watershed of activity.

The BBC inquiry into Martin Bashir's 1995 interview (pictured) with Princess Diana is scrutinising a handwritten letter from the royal which apparently showers the shamed journalist with praise

The BBC inquiry into Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview (pictured) with Princess Diana is scrutinising a handwritten letter from the royal which apparently showers the shamed journalist with praise 

‘It helped Diana become the liberated Peace Ambassadress that she felt called to be, and through which she experienced a whole new sense of freedom.

‘The revolution that Diana began is one that we are only now, all these years later, beginning to set fire to, with things like the Me Too movement.

‘This is a time for the revolution of empaths as the women of the world ignite to use their voices – just as Diana wanted to inspire.’

Mr Pearce revealed he is releasing his book now after Diana ‘wistfully’ told him while she was still alive to publish a book of his techniques, and their work together, after her two sons were grown up and married.

And he added that the rumours of a feud between Princes William and Harry are ‘rubbish’.

The five key areas the BBC inquiry into the Martin Bashir scandal will cover  

Lord Dyson has been asked to investigate and report back on five key areas. 

He will interview BBC staff and have access to all their records. 

1. What steps did the BBC and in particular Martin Bashir take with a view to obtaining the Panorama interview on 20 November 1995 with Diana, Princess of Wales? This will involve a consideration of all the relevant evidence including (i) the mocked up bank statements purporting to show payments to a former employee of Earl Spencer (ii) the purported payments to members of the Royal Households; and (iii) the other matters recently raised by Earl Spencer not limited to the matters published in the Daily Mail on 7 November 2020.

2. Were those steps appropriate, having regard in particular to the BBC’s editorial standards prevailing at the time?

3. To what extent did the actions of the BBC and in particular Martin Bashir influence Diana, Princess of Wales’s decision to give an interview?

4. What knowledge did the BBC have in 1995 and 1996 of the relevant evidence referred to at paragraph 1 above?

5. Having regard to what was known at the time of its investigation in 1995 and 1996, how effectively did the BBC investigate the circumstances leading to the interview?

He said: ‘These two men are great friends. They have a great respect and brotherly love for one another.’

As well as Princess Diana, Mr Pearce has coached an impressive catalogue of names over his four-decade career – from Margaret Thatcher and Tony Benn, to actress Glenn Close.

He praised the voices of former Labour leaders Neil Kinnock and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as of the new President and Vice-President, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

And he suggested he would like to work with current PM Boris Johnson as well as Prince William’s wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Mr Pearce’s book, ‘Diana The Voice of Change’, is due for release in January 2021.

The BBC inquiry into Bashir’s 1995 interview is scrutinising a handwritten letter from the royal which apparently showers the shamed journalist with praise.

The note went missing for more than 20 years after an over-eager panorama staff member took it home as a valuable souvenir – but handed it in last month.

The BBC is using it as a tool to suggest that Diana never saw faked financial documents – commissioned by Mr Bashir – to convince her to speak on Panorama.

The letter on Kensington Palace stationery also purports to heap praise on the BBC’s shamed religion editor, who is currently on sick leave after developing Covid-19-related complications.

The contents of the letter has not been made public, but was examined by a previous 1996 internal BBC investigation into the circumstances surrounding Diana’s TV appearance. 

Lord Dyson – a retired judge and former master of the rolls – will now see the letter as part of his investigation to discover what steps the BBC and Mr Bashir took to land the Panorama interview with Diana in 1995.

A documentary about Panorama’s history claimed the letter reads something along the lines of: ‘This is to confirm that I gave you the interview freely and was not influenced by any documents.’ 

Diana’s brother Earl Spencer has alleged Mr Bashir showed him fake financial documents and told untrue stories about the royal family to gain access to her.  

The fake documents falsely suggested Diana’s then private secretary – and another royal household member – were being paid by the security services to spy on the princess, something that played on Diana’s fears about her safety and privacy.

Former BBC director-general Lord Hall led a 1996 internal BBC investigation into the circumstances surrounding Diana’s Panorama appearance, which sent shockwaves through the royal family with her revelations about the state of her marriage. 

The corporation has previously said in a statement that Mr Bashir admitted commissioning the mocked-up bank documents – relating to the earl’s employee -and it is understood the journalist was found to have ‘done wrong’ at the end of the process.

Diana's brother Earl Spencer (pictured) has alleged Mr Bashir showed him fake financial documents and told untrue stories about the royal family to gain access to Diana

Martin Bashir in February 2020

Diana’s brother Earl Spencer (left) has alleged Mr Bashir (right) showed him fake financial documents and told untrue stories about the royal family to gain access to Diana 

It is not known what sanction, if any, he faced.

Mr Bashir, now the BBC’s religion editor, is seriously ill with Covid-19-related complications and is not in a position to respond to the earl’s allegations, the BBC has said.

A spokeswoman for the corporation previously said: ‘A lot has been written and broadcast about the Princess of Wales’s interview in recent weeks. It is important that we have a view of what happened based on the evidence of everyone involved. Clearly that has not yet been able to happen.

‘But to be absolutely clear, the BBC is determined to get to the truth of what happened. That’s why we have appointed Lord Dyson to lead a fully independent investigation.

‘It is vital that everyone with information shares that with Lord Dyson, so that he can investigate thoroughly and draw his conclusions having heard all the evidence.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk