'Clear line' between Diana’s 'Panorama' interview and her death, says Andrew Neil

Diana during her interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC.
Princess Diana during her Panorama interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC in 1995. (PA)

There is a “clear line” between Princess Diana’s infamous Panorama interview and her death two years later, a journalist has claimed.

Former BBC presenter and ex-Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil said she dropped her security detail as a result of the interview, a factor he said played a role in her death in a car crash in Paris in August 1997.

Diana gave the controversial interview to Martin Bashir for BBC’s Panorama programme in 1995.

Last month, her brother Earl Spencer claimed he was shown forged bank statements to convince him to introduce Diana to Bashir ahead of the interview.

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Spencer said the documents falsely claimed to show that two senior courtiers were being paid by the security services for information on the princess, the Daily Mail reported.

Neil said Diana dropped her security detail as a result and ended up using bodyguards provided by her partner, film producer Dodi Fayed, who was also killed in the crash.

File photo dated 27/06/2016 of Andrew Neil who has said there were times he was "unhappy" at the BBC, but that he is not out to "seek revenge" as he leaves to help launch GB News.
Broadcaster Andrew Neil said there was a 'clear line' between the Panorama interview and Diana's death. (PA)

A French investigation two years after the crash found that driver Henri Paul, deputy head of security at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, had been driving at high speed while intoxicated by alcohol. He also died in the crash.

"There's a clear line now between that interview and that terrible night in Paris in 1997,” Neil told CNN.

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“Because if she still had British security, either they would never have let her leave the Ritz Hotel that night, they certainly wouldn't have driven her at the speed that she was driven, and the driver would not have been drunk.

"So there's a clear line from ’95 to ’97."

ABC "NightLine" anchor Martin Bashir is seen during the ABC Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday July 26, 2007. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Martin Bashir, who interviewed Diana for Panorama in 1995, is recovering from coronavirus. (AP)

Earlier this month, Diana’s former private secretary said the Panorama interview led “straight to the night in Paris”.

Retired judge Lord Dyson has been appointed to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the interview.

An appeal for public information has been launched to help with the investigation. The inquiry has been welcomed by Prince Harry, Diana’s son.

Bashir, now religion editor at BBC News, is currently recovering from heart surgery and complications from COVID-19.

Last month, the BBC revealed it had discovered a note from Diana that it says clears Bashir of any wrongdoing. The BBC said it has given the note to the inquiry.

Lord Hall, former director-general of the BBC, who conducted his own inquiry while head of news in 1996 into the Panorama interview, has said he is “looking forward” to helping with the latest investigation.

In September Neil left the BBC after 20 years to set up rival TV channel GB News, but he said he is not out to “seek revenge”.

Watch: Lord Hall ‘looking forward’ to taking part in Diana inquiry