Princess Diana's 'men in grey suits' are still censoring her

“BECAUSE I know the character, I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him, and I don’t know whether he could adapt to that.”

Like a metaphorical nuclear bomb being let off under Buckingham Palace, Princess Diana plunged the Royal Family into a previously unimaginable crisis with that one electrifying sentence questioning her estranged husband’s succession to the throne.

It is hard to quantify just how much that sit-down for the BBC’s Panorama with a then low-profile reporter called Martin Bashir changed everything for the modern monarchy, with revelations of adultery, eating disorders and self-harm prompting a swift divorce order from the Queen and an irreparable rift.

But 25 years on, I believe the establishment, which desperately wanted to shut Diana up when she was alive, is now trying to discredit her historic tell-all.

With much vigour, Diana’s brother Earl Spencer has revived his long-running battle with the Beeb over how Bashir used fake docu-ments to secure a meet-ing with him, helping to set up an introduction to the Princess of Wales.

Like so many examples of the Wild West tactics employed for royal reporting during the Nineties, the circumstances of the contact between Bashir and Spencer seem complicated, odd and, perhaps, although nothing is proven, a little dodgy out of context.

REPUTATION-SHATTERING

But that situation doesn’t change one iota what Diana told the broadcaster under the cloak of darkness that night at Kensington Palace in November 1995.

The attempt to present Diana as some sort of hapless damsel in distress bounced into speaking to Bashir is infuriating.

She knew exactly what she was doing, having entertained similar offers from Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters and Sir David Frost.

She thought about the ramifications of her every reputation-shattering word in the interview.

She realised this was her breakaway moment from the monarchy, come what may.

I’m hardly one to stand up for the BBC, a morally corrupt organisation full of campaigners masquerading as journalists.

But it feels grim that, amid the latest frenzy, Bashir is unable to defend himself as he battles a serious Covid-related illness.

Remember, there were 650 days between the Panorama broadcast and Diana’s devastating death.



In that intervening period the beloved figure became emboldened, starting a new relationship with Dodi Fayed and launching her game-changing landmines campaign.

Diana was regularly in contact with many of her favourite reporters such as Richard Kay — as well as editors of newspapers — so she had ample opportunity to say she had been tricked or let down by the Beeb or Bashir over the interview.

But I don’t believe she wanted to do that — Diana was an empowered woman, proud of the most independent of all her controversial decisions. In fact, a BBC investigation at the time concluded that the Princess had written a letter confirming the forged documents played no role in her decision to speak to Bashir.

While it is unfortunate said letter appears to have been lost, that’s hardly a surprise given a quarter of a century has passed this month.

No one forced Diana into that interview.

She chose to go for the jugular and it had the desired effect: A potential blow to her estranged husband’s ability to marry Camilla or even become King.

However, in 2020 this scandal is being effectively used by the “men in grey suits”, as Di called them, to see the Panorama interview censored by the BBC forever more.

Despite being of genuine historic value, it is not available on the internet, iPlayer or even YouTube.

The corporation has, thus far, refused to release unaired portions where Diana is believed to have spoken of her strained relationship with the Queen Mother.

Yes, it is an uncomfortable truth that the Panorama interview hastened Diana’s split from the monarchy — seeing the cords cut when it came to security in particular, a decision that may have contributed to her horror death.

But as one of millions who adored Diana and connected with her in a way not possible with any other public figure, royal or celebrity in my lifetime, I am determined her legacy must be protected.

Diana wanted the world to hear her raw, gritty and deeply personal confessional — the BBC must not be spooked into keeping it hidden away.

Ruling is a triumph for brave Amber

I DON’T want to focus on Johnny Depp this week, although I hope his failed libel action against this newspaper and myself, personally, over a column I wrote in April 2018 about his revolting physical and mental abuse of his ex-wife prompts the troubled soul to seek help.

I would much rather talk about Amber Heard.

She faced unconscionable personal abuse simply for telling the truth. But each heartbreaking setback has only made her braver.

At just 34, she put it all on the line – Hollywood fame, a soaring acting career, multi-million- pound commercial endorsements and famous friends – to do what she knew was right for the cause of other silenced victims.

When Amber stood on the steps of the High Court in July to make a statement, she expected to be pelted with eggs and other objects by fans of her former husband.

But having got through this, without a smudge on her reputation or character following that comprehen- sive ruling by Mr Justice Nicol, I have no doubt Amber’s contribution to the world will be a significant one.

I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

Wootton's week



What a halfwit, Whitty

WE didn’t want to scare you, Professors Dumb and Dumber Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance insisted this week, having got their way and plunged us back into a deadly full national lockdown for a second time.

Well, I call bull on that.

What else would explain using already out-of-date figures to terrify the nation into believing there could be 4,000 coronavirus deaths a day when that forecast is widely considered to be five times too high?

Why use an emotive visualisation of ice rinks being turned into giant morgues – when such a horrifying initiative was never needed during the first wave, for which we were far less prepared?

How come they didn’t wait for data from King’s College London this week showing the three-tier system, which was given no chance to actually work, has seen the R rate nationally drop to 1.0?

Why tell MPs this week cases in Liverpool are going up among all age groups, when the opposite is true?

Doom merchants Whitty and Vallance have gone from truth-tellers back in March – trying to be realistic about the low risk for the vast majority of us from catching the new coronavirus, and the need to develop a degree of herd immunity among healthy members of the population – to two men gripped by Covid-19 hysteria.

Maybe it’s inevitable when scientists become national figures, terrified by Opposition calls for a public inquiry that could see them personally blamed for thousands of deaths.

 

But it’s a disgrace all the same.

Whitty is the Chief Medical Officer for England, equally responsible for the tens of thousands of deaths that will inevitably follow from cancer, heart disease, strokes and suicide.

History will be unkind to these kind of lockdown zealots, who have failed to adequately balance the risk.

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