A close friend of Princess Diana has angrily condemned the BBC and one of its most senior correspondents, Martin Bashir, over the famous Panorama interview that Diana gave in 1995.
Rosa Monckton, who spent a lot of time with Diana during that year, did not know about the television programme until the night that it aired.
She was one of 23 million people who had tuned in to hear Diana speak.
But she now says the BBC behaved in a “devious and underhand way” and accuses it of being “just as bad” as any paparazzi photographer who hunted her.
On ITV’s Good Morning Britain today, she accused Mr Bashir of being “ruthless” for the way in which he faked documents and created a “web of lies” to secure the interview.
Ms Monckton said: “Bashir behaved like the worst sort of the paparazzi. He was ruthless, he was predatory and he was calculating” in order to “snare her in".
She added: “He fed into her paranoia when she was in an extremely febrile state anyway.
“I got a letter from her in late September 1995 saying ‘I have had to change my number, strange things happening.'"
Ms Monckton claims Diana’s outlook massively changed that year and she now believes it was because of the stories Diana was told by Mr Bashir.
Mr Bashir, who is now the BBC’s Religious Affairs Editor, is accused, amongst other things, of asking a colleague to make fake bank statements that he then showed to Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, in the hope that he would introduce the journalist to his sister.
Ms Monckton said that Mr Bashir “should be hauled in and he should explain himself".
It comes after a former graphic designer for the BBC, Matt Wiessler, told an ITV documentary how he had been asked by Mr Bashir to urgently make the statements one night and Wiessler says he was made the “fall guy” by the corporation after the faked documents came to light.
Ms Monckton believes the Panorama interview had huge consequences as it triggered the Queen to demand that Diana and Prince Charles get divorced.
Diana subsequently lost her royal title – and the security that went with it.
And Ms Monckton noted that Diana died just two years later in a car in Paris without that ring of Palace security around her.
The BBC has promised what it called a “robust and independent investigation” into the allegations.
The corporation’s new Director-General, Tim Davie said: “The BBC is taking this very seriously and we want to get to the truth.”
Mr Bashir is currently on sick leave after a heart operation and complications caused by Covid-19.
He was, however, pictured on Friday night apparently buying a takeaway close to his London home. He has yet to issue a response to the claims.
Earl Spencer has demanded an apology from the BBC.
He says he has raised this matter now – a quarter of a century after the interview took place - because he only recently became aware that the BBC knew about the alleged fake bank statements when it originally looked into the circumstances of the Panorama interview in 1996.
Earl Spencer has accused the BBC of a “cover up”.