Diana, Princess of Wales defended her decision to be interviewed by Martin Bashir – stating in a letter she had “no regrets”.
Published for the first time as part of Lord Dyson’s inquiry into how Bashir managed to land the journalistic scoop of his life, it reveals she did not face “undue pressure” to agree to the Panorama appearance.
Lord Dyson’s report also revealed the princess’ brother believed she was being “phone-hacked” at the time, as her comments to close friends were appearing in press.
Diana’s letter, dated a few days before Christmas in 1995, said: “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 concerning the matter.”
The princess’ distinctive handwritten note was penned on December 22 1995 using her Kensington Palace headed note paper just over a month after the documentary was aired.
The note was written after Bashir was asked by BBC executives to provide evidence Diana had not been shown fake bank statements, relating to one of her brother’s staff and two senior members of the royal household, as he tried to gain access to her.
The mocked-up documents – commissioned by Bashir or likely created by him, Dyson’s report said – were shown to Diana’s sibling Earl Spencer in order to win his trust and falsely suggested the individuals named were receiving money for information.
When BBC executives began to investigate Bashir, Lord Dyson’s report said: “Mr Bashir gave them an account of the faking of the documents.
“Crucially, he told them that he had not shown them to anyone. They accepted that he was telling them the truth, but asked him to provide independent evidence that Princess Diana had not been shown the documents.
“Within a few hours, Mr Bashir obtained a note dated 22 December 1995, signed by her which supported what he had said. I am satisfied that the Diana note is a genuine document.”
The report also highlighted the concerns of Charles, Earl Spencer, that his sister’s phone calls were being intercepted.
Lord Dyson’s inquiry report stated: “At his Investigation interview, he said that she was probably being phone-hacked at the time.
“He thought that reading things in the press, that she had only mentioned to close friends, had made her extremely unsettled.”
It was under these circumstance Charles decided to tell his sister about the claims, now known to be false, money was being paid to her private secretary Patrick Jephson and Richard Aylard, the Prince of Wales’ private secretary, according to Bashir’s mocked-up documents.
The report said about the earl: “He says that when he told her about Jephson and Aylard, ‘she was absolutely intrigued, and wanted to learn more as quickly as possible: she had felt spied on for a while and what I told her seemed to fit with her general fears’.”
Lord Dyson’s document said Diana’s brother felt the fake statements were the “absolute clincher” in encouraging him to introduce Bashir to his sister.
In another part of the report, it states the princess was “keen” on the idea of a television appearance.
The report said: “She would probably have agreed to be interviewed by any experienced and reputable reporter in whom she had confidence even without the intervention of Mr Bashir.”