Were Princess Diana, Martin Bashir friends? Ex-BBC journalist claims he cooked with her in Kensington palace
Lord Dyson's report found that Princess Diana's bombshell 1995 Panorama interview took place under shady circumstances. Journalist Martin Bashir, who was with the BBC at the time, forged bank statements to gain access to the princess and make her feel paranoid about her safety.
Bashir allegedly showed Earl Spencer, Diana’s younger brother, bank statement that fraudulently made it appear that two senior royal aides, Patrick Jephson, the princess’s private secretary, and Commander Richard Aylard, who held the same position in Prince Charles’s office, had Channel Islands bank accounts in to which they had received money from the royal security services.
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Lord Dyson, a retired judge who led the inquiry, said this "fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its [The BBC’s] hallmark". He also said, following the six-month-long investigation, “I found Earl Spencer a credible witness... I cannot say the same of Mr Bashir.”
Were Princess Diana and Martin Bashir friends?
During the interview, Diana admitted that her marriage to Prince Charles was over, saying, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”. Diana also admitted that she had been unfaithful with army officer James Hewitt, following Charles’s admission in an interview the previous year that he had also been unfaithful during the marriage.
It was the final nail in the coffin for their marriage. On December 20, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen had sent letters to Charles and Diana, advising them to divorce. It was finalized the following year.
Bashir claimed the first time they met came after Diana invited him to Kensington Palace. He said he asked Earl Spencer if he could speak to his sister, and Diana, subsequently, called him. Earl Spencer has denied this claim. Lord Dyson, however, concluded that Earl Spencer had introduced the pair after being “groomed” by Bashir.
Bashir has admitted “mocking” up the bank statements. However, he also blamed Diana for them. This, despite the fact that the documents were drawn up three weeks before they met. He claimed she had 'confessed' while he was cooking with her in the Kensington Palace kitchen. He claimed that Diana gave him the information about the sums of money.
Bashir told Lord Dyson: “I was cooking in Kensington Palace, we were chatting about various things, and she said, 'Oh, by the way, I was wrong about that' and her source was wrong.” Lord Dyson asked what she was mistaken about and Bashir responded: “My recollection is that she was basically saying... the whole thing was not true, and, you know, 'I'm sorry, I made a mistake'.”
Dyson then said: “There were significant parts of Mr Bashir's account that I reject as incredible, unreliable, and, in some cases, dishonest.”
Bashir also claimed he and Diana took a five-hour drive to the New Forest together when they met the second time. The excursion allegedly took place “a few days” after he was first introduced to her on September 19, 1995. During the journey, he claimed Diana gave him the information he used on the forged bank statements.
Bashir claimed she knew of the “exact amounts of money” paid. In 1996, Bashir had said: “By now I had developed a close relationship with HRH The Princess of Wales. She mentioned that she had some important information.”
He claimed that Diana had told him Prince Charles's private secretary Mr Aylard had set up a trust fund in the Channel Islands used to secretly pay money to her brother's head of security Alan Waller. Lord Dyson dismissed this as well, concluding: “I cannot accept Mr Bashir's evidence that, for no apparent reason, Princess Diana gave him the figures while on a car journey to the New Forest.”