Shortly after that, Bashir showed the earl a second set of bank statements that were even more damning. They claimed Commander Richard Aylard, Prince Charles’s private secretary, and Jephson were receiving secret payments from shady sources in the Channel Islands. (Unlike the Waller statements, which Bashir himself—as well as the graphic designer—eventually confirmed were completely made up, Dyson could not find any concrete evidence that the Jephson and Aylard ones were also forged. Yet he felt like it was likely that “they were created by Mr. Bashir and that the information allegedly contained in them was fabricated by him.”) The earl called the BBC to vouch for Bashir’s credibility. They did.
Spencer immediately alerted his sister of Bashir’s findings. Alarmed, Diana agreed to an introduction. He then set up a meeting between the reporter and the most famous woman in the world. “[It was] to groom me so that he could then get to Diana for the interview he was always secretly after,” Spencer told Dyson of the documents. Diana and Bashir first met on September 19. Dyson believes that Bashir preyed on her deep paranoia: “Princess Diana had paranoid fears about various things, including that she was being spied on and in danger of her life,” Dyson wrote. “Mr. Bashir would have [had] little difficulty in playing on her fears and paranoia.” One of her panics? That some darker forces were trying to get rid of her or injure her so they could declare she was “unbalanced.” A particular fear is that it would be done through a car accident, such as a preplanned brake failure. (A notable scene in this season of The Crown touches on this deep anxiety.) According to notes of the meeting made by Earl Spencer at the time, they discussed the potential of her car and phone lines being bugged—and senior police officers making money off the illegally collected information. The Dyson report, quoting from Spencer’s notes, also alleges they talked about the royal family possibly paying off various tabloid journalists, who in turn would publish negative stories about Diana.Earl Spencer, who made the introduction between his sister and the journalist, began to notice inconsistencies popping up during the meeting.
In 1995, Bashir was a relatively junior BBC reporter. The network, in fact, had other names in mind at first to interview the princess amid her tumultuous marriage. In 1993, they first reached out to Princess Diana’s private secretary, Commander Patrick Jephson, asking if she had an interest in talking to veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley. He declined the offer. But Bashir, intrigued by stories surrounding the monarchy, was willing to go to great lengths to ensure access. First‚ as depicted in the show, he asked a graphic designer who did freelance work for the network to mock up a fake bank statement that suggested the Earl Spencer’s (Diana’s brother) security guard, Alan Waller, had taken payments from both the British press and suspicious offshore companies in exchange for leaking information about the Spencer family. Unaware of the true context, the graphic designer obliged. In early September, Bashir then showed the fake papers to the Earl Spencer.
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