Earl Spencer: I was groomed and duped by Martin Bashir for Panorama interview

·2-min read

Earl Spencer has said he was “duped” and “groomed” by Martin Bashir in a bid to land an interview with his sister Diana, Princess Of Wales.

In a written statement to Lord Dyson’s inquiry into the circumstances surrounding her explosive Panorama interview in 1995, the earl said he did not have proof he had been deceived until last year.

He said: “I had come to accept that Bashir had shown me fake bank accounts to groom me, so that he could then get to Diana for the interview he was always secretly after.

“However, I had no proof that this was the case.

“It was not until last October 2020 that I received that proof, in the form of the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) papers released by the BBC that month, which finally conceded the fact that Bashir had commissioned forgery as part of his plan to dupe me, en route for Diana.”

Lord Dyson – Bashir report
A fake bank statement submitted in evidence (BBC/PA)

Bashir commissioned documents purporting to show payments into the bank account of Alan Waller, a former employee of Earl Spencer, Commander Patrick Jephson, Diana’s private secretary, and Commander Richard Aylard, private secretary to the Prince of Wales, according to Lord Dyson.

Watch: Apology over Diana interview 'not enough', says ex-Panorama producer

The documents falsely suggested the royal aides were being paid for keeping the princess under surveillance.

Following the publication of the report, Cmdr Jephson said in a statement: “After so many years it is a relief to know more of the truth behind events which had so many unhappy and even tragic consequences.

“I am grateful to Lord Spencer, Lord Dyson and the tenacious journalists who brought the story to light. I also acknowledge the BBC’s full apology which I received from the (BBC) director general this afternoon.”

Royal Book Jephson file
Diana and her private secretary, Patrick Jephson (Tim Ockenden/PA)

The corporation has written to a number of people, including the royal family and Earl Spencer, to apologise over the circumstances surrounding the interview.

A statement said: “We recognise that it has taken far too long to get to the truth.”

The corporation has also returned the awards the interview received, including a Bafta.

Watch: BBC Failings Contributed to Diana's Paranoia, Says Prince William

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