Sometimes one has to admire our free and fearless press, if only for its ability to re-run stories from decades ago as if they were new and fresh. Combine this with the claim by the Daily Mail’s new editor Geordie Greig that he intends to make the paper “A force for good” [ho ho ho], park the tanks on the Express’ lawn, and what do you get?
But here the first problem enters: this is only “sensational” in the Mail’s retelling. Worse, what they have ponied up has been recreated for dramatic effect (see insertion of [word not entirely clear] into the body of the text), it does not make that accusation (although it is admittedly a bit nudge-and-wink), the “whitewash” is also in the retelling, and we are depending on Charlie Spencer’s personal claim to validate much of what follows.
We see only one side of what could have been a two-way exchange, and Martin Bashir is, as is well known, seriously ill and unable to defend his actions. And before anyone takes Charlie Spencer’s faux outrage on trust, there are two items they need to consider.
One, the Mail’s article concedes that the BBC “launched its own investigation into the faked document which concluded in April 1996 that: 'The BBC has been able, independently, to verify that these documents were put to no use which had any bearing, direct or indirect, on the Panorama interview with the Princess of Wales.' The review was overseen in part by Tony Hall, then head of news and current affairs”.
The Telegraph also covered this aspect, as did the rather more downmarket New York Post, which told its readers “The blowhard [!] brother of the late Princess Diana - who lovingly eulogized his sister as a saint in death - cruelly accused her of being mentally ill in a poison-pen letter written only a year earlier, it was revealed last night”.
There was more. “‘I know how manipulation and deceit are parts of the illness,’ Earl Spencer told the Princess of Wales in his bitter missive. ‘I pray you are getting treatment for your mental problems’”. The Mirror added “He did not care that her admirers wished her to be buried somewhere easily accessible and not on a remote island. And he did not care that she wanted her wedding dress to be in the Victoria & Albert's National Dress Collection rather than in the Althorp Museum, tickets £10.50 a head”.
Tim Davie should be wary of caving in to Charlie Spencer. I’ll just leave that one there.