'Martin Bashir’s lies led to Diana’s death…I can draw a line between the two events', says Earl Spencer

EARL Spencer last night said conniving BBC journalist Martin Bashir’s lies led to his sister Diana’s death.

He told how she stopped trusting people after Bashir made her think everyone was against her to help secure his 1995 Panorama interview.

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Charles, 57, said vulnerable Diana was then left brutally exposed by the time of her tragic death two years later.

He slammed Bashir in the wake of a damning inquiry that found he spun a web of lies to land his Panorama scoop, which was watched by 23 million viewers.

He recalled meeting him before he sat down with his sister, and noted his skill in pretending to be a “friend” who will “save you”.

Charles said: “The irony is that I met Martin Bashir on the 31st of August 1995 because exactly two years later she died, and I do draw a line between the two events.”

Bashir convinced Diana her private letters were being opened, her car and phone were bugged by MI5 and her bodyguard and close friends were betraying her.

The journalist also used forged bank statements and chillingly claimed her husband Prince Charles was planning the “end game”.

Skilled 'at amplifying people’s anxieties'

Earl Spencer went on: “It’s quite clear from the introduction that I sat in on the 19th of September 1995 everyone was going to be made untrustworthy, and I think that Diana did lose trust in really key people.

“This is a young girl in her mid-30s who has lived this extraordinarily turbulent and difficult time in the public eye.

“She didn’t know who to trust and in the end, when she died two years later, she was without any form of real protection.”

Panorama aired a special programme on its own failings on Thursday night to punish its rogue reporter, with concerns at the time ignored.

Earl Spencer, who has long campaigned for justice for his sister, told it that Bashir was skilled “at amplifying people’s anxieties”.

He said: “He was very good at making you feel as though he was your friend who was going to save you in a difficult and dangerous world.”

Allies of Diana last night said she was “cast adrift” from royal support after the bombshell interview, where she sensationally claimed there were “three of us” in her marriage with Prince Charles.

Her former private secretary, Commander Patrick Jephson told Panorama she was cut off from the “royal support structure that had guided and safeguarded her for so many years”.

He added: “Inevitably it made her vulnerable to people who were unable properly to look after her.”

Earl Spencer informed the Lord Dyson inquiry of 32 shocking smears peddled by Bashir — with the reporter claiming in evidence some came from Diana or her “clairvoyant” friends directly.

BBC Panorama journalists at the time raised concerns over how Bashir won her over, including the use of forged bank statements. However they were not listened to.

A BBC source said yesterday: “What happened at Panorama with Bashir set the culture of the BBC where staff were afraid to raise concerns about wrongdoing. It also set the format for how far you can push it and then cover up to get a scoop.

'A series of falsehoods'

“It is not acceptable for a licence fee-funded organisation.

"The whistleblowers were axed and those who covered up were promoted.”

After the original broadcast, BBC chiefs relied on a note from Diana which appeared to exonerate Bashir.

It went missing until recently, when it was obtained by Panorama ahead of last night’s broadcast.

It reads: “Martin Bashir did not show me any documents nor give me any information that I was not previously aware of. I consented to the interview on Panorama without any undue pressure and have no regrets.”

However Earl Spencer said last night it “did not exonerate the BBC as far as I’m concerned”.

He added: “Diana was dealing from a position of having been lied to. She didn’t know that the whole obtaining of the interview was based on a series of falsehoods that led to her being vulnerable to this.”

A note written by Diana to her brother after he informed her of Bashir’s claims she was being spied on highlighted the pair’s close sibling bond.

She told him: “Darling Carlos, I so appreciated the contents of our telephone call this morning, it all makes complete sense to what is going on around me at this present time. They underestimate the Spencer strength! Lots of love from Duch x.”

After using dirty tricks, shamed Bashir secured other high-profile scoops, including a controversial documentary on Michael Jackson.

The pop star later complained he felt tricked by him.

The reporter was also accused of lying to relatives of Harold Shipman’s murder victims and peddling damaging “untruths” to police about the Soho bombings case.

In the hours before the inquiry’s report was published yesterday, Earl Spencer paid a poignant tribute to his older sister by publishing a childhood snap of them together.

The black and white picture showed the pair side by side in their swimming costumes. He captioned it: “Some bonds go back a very long way.”

Bashir’s lies to secure his interview sparked a wave of anger among Diana’s friends and royal experts. Angela Levin, Prince Harry’s biographer, said: “Diana might have still been alive today if it didn’t happen.

"She may have had a completely different life as she had been led to believe everyone was against her. It is an absolute tragedy to try and trick a vulnerable woman who was to be our Queen.

“You can’t get much lower than bombarding her with so many things from forged statements to saying her staff were working against her. The damage that did to her was appalling. She obviously regretted doing that interview.

“You must have moral standards and not be so deceitful just to get a programme and get your career going. He had lots of other interviews and jobs on that basis. He didn’t deserve it. That’s not the way to succeed. Bashir can’t get away with such terrible lies.

“The BBC should be better and have fact-checkers. Then to hide it all is dreadful. The BBC has sent an apology to William and Harry which I think is too late.

“They’ll be devastated and it will upset them a great deal because they could have seen their mother in a different light and she might have lived and their whole childhood would have been different.”

Diana’s friend Simone Simmons said of the interview: “She regretted it until the day she died. What happened to her was unforgivable.”


Ben Leo

MARTIN Bashir shamelessly claimed the lies he was accused of peddling to Princess Diana probably came from her “clairvoyant” or “mystic sources”.

Earl Spencer claims Bashir told Diana that Prince Edward had Aids and the Queen “comfort ate” and had a bad heart.

The allegations were written down in Earl Spencer’s notepad during a 1995 meeting with his sister and Bashir ahead of the TV interview.

In his evidence to Lord Dyson’s inquiry, Bashir said of the claims: “These matters could have been checked by the Princess of Wales quite easily and, if untrue, would prove me to be a complete fantasist.

“These matters are consistent with the type of things that the Princess of Wales later told me that her clairvoyant and mystic sources had told her.”

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