Princess Diana wrote a letter insisting that she was not coerced into her 1995 Panorama interview, but it mysteriously went missing, according to a new Channel 4 documentary.
Diana: The Truth Behind the Interview alleges Diana was convinced to do her interview with Martin Bashir under false pretences after the BBC allegedly hired a graphic designer to mock up a “forged” bank statement.
The designer claimed on the documentary that he created the false document which apparently showed members of Diana’s staff were being paid off by other companies including a fake reference to News International.
The document was then shown to her brother, Earl Spencer, though the BBC claims it was not shown to Diana herself.
Diana’s biographer, Andrew Morton, said: “Speaking to those in Diana’s circle at that time, you could get a sense why those bank statements were a tipping point that made her mind up to sit down and speak about her life.”
The documentary shows a statement from the BBC after an internal enquiry that said the document had no bearing on the interview.
In 2007, the BBC responded to a FOI act to say that there was no evidence on record about the enquiry.
But another statement claims there were records, and they indicated that Martin had told the BBC the document had been shown to Earl Spencer.
And the BBC said Diana herself wrote to the BBC to “confirm that these documents played no part in her decision”.
But, the documentary alleges, the BBC said they did not have a copy of this letter.
Andrew said: “If they received a letter saying the Princess of Wales was happy with the way the programme was made, that would bombproof them against any future concerns.
“I find it astonishing that this letter, according to them, does not exist.”
Lawyer Quentin Hunt said on the documentary that there was “an argument” that the BBC had broken the law in allegedly forging the document, particularly as it resulted in financial gain.
The BBC told MirrorOnline: “A handwritten note from Princess Diana attested to the fact the Princess had not seen the ‘mocked-up’ bank statements and that they played no part in her decision to give the interview.
“The BBC itself no longer possesses a physical copy of this note, and thus could not release it under FOI in 2007 or indeed now, but its existence is documented in the BBC’s records, and it was seen, at the time, by BBC management.”