Paul Burrell questions Diana letter saying she didn't regret Panorama

Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell claims Martin Bashir’s ‘get out of jail’ letter from the late royal stating she had ‘no regrets’ about Panorama interview could have been ‘dictated’ to her because it was ‘just not true’

  • Paul Burrell on Lorraine where he discussed new revelations about interview 
  • Said letter where Diana said she had ‘no regrets’ looked like dictated to her 
  • Claimed Diana said regretted talking of James Hewitt on Martin Bashir interview

Princess Diana’s former butler has thrown doubt on a letter she wrote saying she had ‘no regrets’ about her interview with Martin Bashir for Panorama in 1995. 

Paul Burrell, 62, who lives in Cheshire with his family, said the letter, which was released as part of the Dyson Inquiry into the BBC, was ‘odd,’ in spite of being written in Diana’s handwriting. 

Speaking to Lorraine Kelly this morning, the royal aide turned commentator said the letter is the ‘greatest asset’ to Martin Bashir, after the revelation that he ‘conned his way’ into interviewing the late royal, two years before her death. 

However, he revealed his theory that the letter could have been dicated to the late Princess because he knows that she did regret speaking publicly about her affair with James Hewitt.  

Burrell’s comment comes as both the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex condemned the actions of the BBC in airing Diana’s interview, which was seen as a catalyst for her to officially divorce Prince Wales and leave her royal life behind. 

In the letter, pictured, Diana said Bashir hadn’t shown her any documents or hadn’t given her ‘any information that [she] was not previously aware of’

‘The letter was very interesting, wasn’t it? The letter the Princess wrote? It was the first time I had seen that letter,’ he told Lorraine. 

‘It was written by the Princess, it is her hand, but it was an odd letter – she said she had not seen any documents and she had no regrets. 

‘It was as though it had been dictated to her, it could be Martin Bashir’s biggest asset now,’  he added. 

Speaking from Cheshire, Lady Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, 62, pictured, said the letter penned by the late royal saying she had ‘no regrets’ about doing the Panorama interview with Martin Bashir was ‘odd’

‘But she said “no regrets” on it. And that is just not true. Because she said to me: “I did have one regret with the interview – I did regret speaking about James Hewitt”.

He added that Diana regretted those specific comments because of how they could affect Prince William and Prince Harry. 

Diana and Hewitt had an affair before she separated from Prince Charles in 1992. 

Lorraine, who said the whole affair was ‘very sad,’ agreed the letter was a ‘get out of jail free’ card for Bashir and the BBC. 

In the missive, which was released as part of the Dyson Inquiry, Diana said Bashir hadn’t given her ‘any information [she] was not previously aware of.’ 

Recounting how he led Bashir into Kensington Palace to meet with Diana ahead of the interview, Burrell said the BBC presenter was like a ‘small child excited in a sweet shop.’

In the explosive interview, pictured, Diana referred to Camilla Parker-Bowles as the ‘third person’ in her marriage to Prince Charles

He said the journalist was ‘all too happy,’ to talk to Diana after she had refused similar interviews with other broadcasters, but said Bashir had been ‘deceitful.’ 

Diana and Prince Charles’ two sons have both condemned the interview following the Dyson Inquiry into the actions of the BBC and Martin Bashir regarding their mother’s 1995 interview. 

The Duke of Cambridge said Bashir’s deceit in obtaining his 1995 interview with Princess Diana hastened his parents’ divorce and ‘hurt countless others’ in an unprecedented broadside against the shamed BBC.

Key conclusions of yesterday’s bombshell report that brought shame on the BBC

His brother Prince Harry – who is based in California – also responded to Lord Dyson’s damning report into how the interview was obtained, saying his mother ‘lost her life because of this’.

The Duke of Sussex thanked those who took ‘some form of accountability’ for ‘owning it’, but said ‘the ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took [Diana’s] life’.

In a statement last night, Prince William laid bare his ‘indescribable sadness’ that his precious final years with his mother had been marred by the isolation the historic Panorama interview caused.

What ‘saddens’ him the most was that should a 1996 investigation into claims Diana was hoodwinked by Bashir have been conducted ‘properly’, the princess would have known she was ‘deceived’ prior to her death in 1997, he claimed.

He said the interview now held ‘no legitimacy’, had established a ‘false narrative’ for 25 years, and the BBC’s failings had let his mother, his family and the public down.

The Duke of Cambridge read his bombshell statement to camera in a courtyard at Kensington Palace – his London residence and the home of his late mother.

Both William and the Duke of Sussex yesterday received ‘unconditional apology’ letters from the BBC over Bashir’s conduct and the subsequent cover-up now fully laid bare 25 years on.

The Duke of Cambridge said Martin Bashir’s deceit in obtaining his 1995 interview with Princess Diana hastened his parents’ divorce and ‘hurt countless others’ in unprecedented broadside against the shamed BBC

Buckingham Palace and Prince Charles’ official residence Clarence House have also had correspondence, it can be revealed.

Appearing on a Panorama special about the scandal last night, the princess’s brother Earl Spencer linked his sister’s death to the BBC and the crisis of trust he claimed that engulfed her after she was deceived by Bashir.

His devastating verdict came as a judge ruled the shamed journalist hoodwinked the princess with an elaborate fiction that painted some of those closest to her as traitors.

The ‘rogue reporter’ commissioned fake bank statements to secure his interview with Princess Diana – but covered up his ‘deceitful behaviour’ in a ‘shocking blot’ on the BBC’s near 100-year history.

The statements wrongly suggested that Earl Spencer’s security boss was in the pay of tabloid journalists and a shadowy company linked to the security services.

His lies landed the Panorama reporter the interview of the century and multiple awards – but hastened the end of Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles and saw her stripped of her HRH status just two years before her death.

Bashir maintained that despite the fake bank statements a note from Diana herself showed that she had not been affected by this in her decision to be interviewed by him – an interview of which he remained ‘immensely proud’.

What came out of Dyson Inquiry 

As the BBC suffered one of its darkest days, Lord Dyson’s report revealed:

  • Earl Spencer led demands for Scotland Yard to launch a criminal investigation;
  • Lord Dyson lambasted former BBC bosses for a cynical cover-up after The Mail on Sunday exposed the scandal in 1996;
  • The broadcaster faced possible multi-million-pound payouts to those claiming to be victims as a result of Bashir’s cruel smears;
  • Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden threatened further ‘governance reforms’ at the BBC;
  • The BBC is handing back all the awards the Panorama interview won, including a Bafta;
  • Panorama broadcast its own exposé of itself – exposing BBC bosses’ failings.

In a televised statement, Prince William said: ‘I would like to thank Lord Dyson and his team for the report.

‘It is welcome that the BBC accepts Lord Dyson’s findings in full

– which are extremely concerning – that BBC employees: Lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother; Made lurid and false claims about the Royal Family which played on her fears and fuelled paranoia; Displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the programme; and were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation.

‘It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said.

‘The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.

‘It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.

‘But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived.

‘She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.

‘It is my firm view that this Panorama programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.

‘It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others.

‘This settled narrative now needs to be addressed by the BBC and anyone else who has written or intends to write about these events.

‘In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important. These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.’

In a statement last night, Prince William told of his ‘indescribable sadness’ that the controversial Panorama interview increased his mother’s ‘fear, paranoia and isolation’ in her final years. Pictured: Diana with her sons 

The Duke of Sussex added: ‘Our mother was an incredible woman who dedicated her life to service. She was resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest.

‘The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life.

‘To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it.

‘That is the first step towards justice and truth. Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these – and even worse- are still widespread today. Then, and now, it’s bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication.

‘Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life. Let’s remember who she was and what she stood for.’

The Mail understands that far from drawing a line under the matter, the Duke of Cambridge believes there could be ‘more’ to the scandal.

Sources say that while he is extremely grateful to Lord Dyson, he also felt the terms of reference for the inquiry were narrow and there is, potentially, a lot more to it all’. Exactly what this is, remains to be seen.

Sources said William believes yesterday’s report is ‘just the beginning of the process of establishing the truth’.

However sources close to the prince were also at pains to stress that he is ‘not about to go to war with the BBC’ and passionately believes in public service broadcasting. ‘This is not a campaign he is waging,’ one said.

It is more, the source said, that he believes passionately in ‘establishing the truth’.

How any of this will play out is not clear – but it will more than likely, sources caution, happen in private.

The second in line to the throne has a particularly heavy workload ahead of him in recent months with an official trip to Scotland today and his landmark Earthshot Prize this autumn.

It is likely that his thoughtful words will also go down well at Clarence House, the official residence of his father, the Prince of Wales.

Charles has studiously kept at arms’ length from the investigation, conscious that it is for Diana’s sons to take the lead in anything around her memory and legacy.

But the fact that his elder son has made a point of acknowledging what a damaging effect the interview also had on his relationship with his estranged wife is likely to help soothe troubled waters.

Diana’s brother Earl Spencer last night appeared on another Panorama special, titled: ‘Princess Diana, Martin Bashir and the BBC’ which aimed to lay bare the full extent of the scandal.

In it, he says: ‘The irony is I met Martin Bashir on the 31st of August 1995, because exactly two years later she died. And I do draw a line between the two events.

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