Line from Diana interview ‘leads pretty much straight to night in Paris’

Diana, Princess of Wales’s former private secretary believes her death in a Paris car crash can be traced back to her controversial appearance on Panorama.

Patrick Jephson has told a Channel 4 documentary that a “line” leads from her interview with journalist Martin Bashir to the night she died in 1997, while in the care of people he claims were unable to properly look after the princess.

His comments were made during The Diana Interview: The Truth Behind The Scandal, which will be screened on Monday evening and has investigated the princess’s appearance on the documentary in 1995.

Diana with Bashir during the Panorama interview
Diana with Bashir during the Panorama interview

Diana’s brother Earl Spencer has alleged in recent weeks Mr Bashir showed him fake financial documents relating to Mr Jephson, and another former royal household member, and told outlandish and untrue stories about the royal family to gain access to his sister.

His claims have led the BBC to appoint Lord Dyson, former Master of the Rolls and head of civil justice, to lead a new independent investigation, which has already begun, to discover what steps the BBC and Mr Bashir took to land the interview with Diana in 1995.

Mr Jephson told the documentary: “I think it’s easier now to see how the line from the Panorama interview leads pretty much straight to the night in Paris where Princess Diana was in the hands of people who were unable, properly, to look after 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.

Diana with her then private secretary Patrick Jephson, at Heathrow Airport. Tim Ockenden/PA Wire
Diana with her then private secretary Patrick Jephson, at Heathrow Airport. Tim Ockenden/PA Wire

Mr Jephson told the documentary he would “consider my legal options in due course”.

He added: “What really shocks me now, and deeply saddens me thinking back to how I was 25 years ago, somebody had got to her with lies about me.

“It upsets me more than I can say, that quite possibly the princess died thinking that I had betrayed her.”

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.

In the documentary, a report by Lord Hall to the BBC’s board of governors is shown and a paragraph highlighted, claiming Diana’s brother gave Mr Bashir a bank statement which, with other information, he used to make a “graphic”.

Martin Bashir
Martin Bashir

The earl has told the Daily Mail the suggestion he gave someone’s bank details to the journalist were not true.

When Diana’s brother was sent the report, it prompted him to speak out about the concerns he has harboured about Mr Bashir for 25 years and produce notes he made at the time of the journalist’s allegations.

Lord Hall has confirmed to ITV News he will take part in the corporation’s new investigation into Diana’s appearance on Panorama.

His 1996 inquiry examined claims Mr Bashir had used false financial documents, purporting to show a then member of the earl’s staff was leaking stories, as a way to persuade the princess to talk.

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, but it is not known what sanction, if any, he faced.

Royal wedding
Royal wedding

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 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.”

The Diana Interview: The Truth Behind The Scandal will be screened on Channel 4 on Monday at 8pm.