Martin Bashir expected to hand over second letter from Princess Diana showing her ‘closeness’ to him
Martin Bashir is expected to hand over to an inquiry a second letter from Princess Diana showing her "closeness" to him.
The letter to Mr Bashir is separate to an earlier one the princess sent to the BBC in which she insisted she had willingly given the interview to Panorama.
The second letter – handwritten by Princess Diana on official headed notepaper – is understood to heap fulsome praise on Mr Bashir and was written some time after the Panorama interview.
Sources have told The Telegraph they expect Mr Bashir, now the BBC’s religious affair editor, to cooperate with the ongoing inquiry and that the letter will be produced as part of his argument.
Mr Bashir, 57, has not been seen on television screens since going off sick with Covid-19 and then undergoing a quadruple heart bypass.
He is accused of tricking Princess Diana into giving the interview in 1995 that sent shockwaves around the world. In the interview she told Bashir: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” in reference to the Prince of Wales adulterous affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
A screenshot of Diana, Princess of Wales during her interview with Martin Bashir, 25 years after the Panorama programme was first broadcast
The existence of the second "much more personal" letter is understood to show a "closeness" between Mr Bashir and the princess and offer further evidence that she was happy the interview had gone ahead and pleased with its outcome.
Mr Bashir has admitted faking two bank statements that falsely showed payments to the former head of security of Earl Spencer, princess Diana’s brother, from a tabloid newspaper and an offshore company.
Earl Spencer said Mr Bashir used the faked statements to wrongly gain his trust and subsequently secure a meeting with Diana that led to the interview. The allegations are deeply damaging for the BBC’s reputation prompting its new director-general Tim Davie to order an independent investigation into events more than 25 years ago.
The inquiry, begun in November, is being chaired by Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls, and is expected to take six months to complete.
Lord Dyson, former Master of the Rolls and head of civil justice, pictured in 2015, who has been appointed by the BBC to lead an independent investigation into Martin Bashir's Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales
Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire
Mr Bashir (although still on sick leave) has indicated he is willing to cooperate with the Dyson inquiry and to give his version of events. Sources have suggested that with his career under such scrutiny, Mr Bashir has nothing to lose by doing so.
The Telegraph understands the second letter will be submitted by Mr Bashir to Lord Dyson to show that Princess Diana still trusted him, even after his deceit over the bank statements was made public in a Mail on Sunday expose in 1996.
Earl Spencer kept notes of his meetings with Mr Bashir, including one where he introduced the journalist to his sister. His notes from the time allegedly show 32 false claims and smears made up by Mr Bashir to persuade Princess Diana to give him the interview.
Princess Diana wrote a letter to the BBC after the interview, confirming she was not shown any faked bank statements by Mr Bashir and “that these documents played no part in her decision”.
The letter went missing (it is understood a member of the BBC staff had taken it home as a keepsake) but has been handed back to the corporation and supplied to Lord Dyson.
The second letter from Princess Diana is understood to be much more effusive and was sent directly to Mr Bashir. It shows the pair remained in touch after the interview.
Mr Bashir has been accused of showing the letter to Michael Jackson and his entourage to persuade the pop singer, now dead, to give him an exclusive interview in 2002.
Jackson’s former bodyguard Matt Fiddes said Mr Bashir had used “the Princess Diana handwritten note to convince Michael he could be trusted”.
Alan Waller, the former head of security whose bank statements were faked by Mr Bashir, has now made an official complaint to the Metropolitan Police. Scotland Yard has said it will examine the complaint before deciding whether to launch a criminal investigation.
Neither Mr Bashir nor Lord Dyson were available for comment.