Michael Jackson’s nephew says Martin Bashir ‘manipulated’ King of Pop and won his trust for ITV documentary by showing him letter from Princess Diana praising his Panorama interview
- Jackson’s family want an investigation launched into how Bashir secured access
- His nephew said he had used a letter from Princess Diana to convince him
- It is believed to be the same note that said she had ‘no regrets’ over the chat
- Bashir was found to have deceived Diana into interview with fake bank paper
- Reaction from royals and others saw Bashir branded a ‘rogue reporter’
- George Best’s widow Alex also said the football ace had felt ‘manipulated’
Michael Jackson’s nephew this morning claimed Martin Bashir used a letter from Princess Diana to convince the moonwalking musician to film a controversial documentary.
Taj Jackson, 47, claimed his uncle had been won over by the handwritten note, which is believed to be the document where she said she had ‘no regret’ about the Panorama chat.
That letter, which is in the public domain, is on Kensington Palace-headed notepaper and was released by Lord Dyson during his investigation into Bashir and her interview.
It declares ‘I consented to be interviewed on Panorama without any undue pressure and have no regrets concerning the matter’.
Taj – who briefly had UK fame with the group 3T – said Jackson had been such a fan of the princess it had been the ultimate convincer to link-up with Bashir.
He said: ‘My uncle was shown a letter from Princess Diana that was commending the interview he had done with her.
‘My uncle appreciated Princess Di so much, it was almost like a welcoming, I can trust this guy because he seemed to do such an amazing job with Princess Di.
‘The trust came from Princess Di, known it’s a similar situation with her, that mis-perception and all that stuff. I do believe that’s why he went with Martin Bashir, he had his pickings of who he could’ve went with.
The Panorama interview on the BBC has been investigated alongside the tactics to secure it
Michael Jackson shields himself from the sun during the Martin Bashir documentary on ITV
This letter was released by Lord Dyson as part of the review into Bashir’s techniques
‘I think I just want to hear accountability. The family want there to be an investigation.
‘This was a man who was let into my uncle’s life and was able to manipulate his way in and pretty much destroy my uncle’s persona I would say,’ he added to GMB.
The family’s criticism comes amid calls for to ITV investigate the 2003 documentary, Living With Michael Jackson, which saw the singer allow cameras unprecedented access into his Neverland ranch.
The calls come just days after a bombshell report released by former judge Lord Dyson discovered that the journalist used ‘deceitful behaviour’ and commissioned fake bank statements to secure his 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana.
Taj – who briefly had UK fame with the group 3T – said Jackson had been a fan of Princess Diana
George Best’s ex-wife has also said the footballer believed he had been ‘manipulated’ by Bashir
During his 2003 Tonight Special, Bashir confronted the late pop star over his relationship with children and the child abuse allegations made against him.
Key conclusions of today’s bombshell report that brought shame on the BBC
In one particular segment the singer defended sleeping alongside then 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo, a cancer patient who was staying at his ranch, telling Bashir: ‘Why can’t you share your bed? That’s the most loving thing to do, to share your bed with someone.’
When pressed further by Bashir, Jackson continued to refuse any suggestion that it was inappropriate to share his bed with children, claiming that it was a pure and completely innocent act.
However just two year later, Jackson faced allegations that he had sexually abused Arvizo.
The boy, who was suffering from kidney cancer when he first met the singer, told officers the abuse took place in February and March 2003.
Following a trial in 2005, held in Santa Maria, California, the American singer was acquitted by a jury.
However the rumours against Jackson continued even after his death in 2009.
Taj added yesterday of Bashir’s actions: ‘I would like an investigation into his practices, his editing, his deceitful voiceovers that he contradicted himself.
Lord Hall, the BBC’s former director general, was accused of helping covering up the scandal, with his 1996 internal inquiry concluding his star reporter Martin Bashir was an ‘honest man’. MPs want him to explain himself
What did Martin Bashir say in response to damning BBC report into Diana interview?
On Princess Diana:
‘I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did.
‘Everything we did in terms of the interview was as she wanted, from when she wanted to alert the palace, to when it was broadcast, to its contents … My family and I loved her.’
‘I don’t feel I can be held responsible for many of the other things that were going on in her life, and complex issues surrounding those decisions.
‘I can understand the motivation but to channel the tragedy, the difficult relationship between the Royal Family and the media, purely on to my shoulders feels a little unreasonable.
‘The suggestion I am singularly responsible I think is unreasonable and unfair.’
‘She was a pioneering princess. When you think about her expressions of grief in her marriage, when you think about the admission of psychiatric illness – just extraordinary! And her sons have gone on to champion mental health.
On Lord Dyson’s report:
‘I don’t understand what the purpose of this is ultimately? OK, maybe you want to destroy me, but outside of this, what’s the point?
‘I did something wrong… but for pity’s sake, acknowledge something of the relationship we had and something of what she contributed through that interview.
‘One of the saddest things about all of this has been the way the content of what she said has almost been ignored.’
On William and Harry:
He said he is ‘deeply sorry’.
‘I can’t imagine what their family must feel each day, although I know a little of that myself having lost a brother and father prematurely.’
On Diana visiting his wife in hospital after she gave birth to their third child:
‘We were friends. She was spectacular.
‘She said to me: “You must let me know the moment the baby arrives,” and an hour later, there was a knock on the delivery room and in she walked.’
On showing Earl Spencer the forged bank statements:
‘Obviously I regret it, it was wrong. But it had no bearing on anything. It had no bearing on [Diana], it had no bearing on the interview.’
On failing to approach graphic designer Matt Wiessler who made the forgeries:
‘I don’t think I did, no. I am sorry about that.’
‘Who put him up to this? Was there a producer involved? This was done under someone’s watch?’
George Best’s ex-wife has also said the footballer believed he had been ‘manipulated’ and ‘cheated’ into giving an interview with Bashir.
Alex Best, 49, claimed she was pushed by him into agreeing to a documentary about her husband, even as he fought chronic liver damage brought on by alcoholism.
She said that the programme portrayed her and Best’s agent Phil Hughes as heavy drinkers who were driving Best to an early grave.
Alex said today ‘He was very persistent. I was going through a terrible time because George was seriously ill in hospital.
‘I had a letter through the door, posted by Martin Bashir saying I’d love to do an interview with George and paint him in a fantastic light. He said about Princess Diana, that’s what Taj was saying as well.
‘The documentary I wasn’t too happy with at all, when George was in hospital he was constantly badgering me, he was outside the hospital everytime I went home.
He would text me, phone me. In the end to try and get rid of him, we met in a restaurant with George’s agent and he tried to ply us with drinks.’
ITV say their securing of the interview did not have Martin Bashir doing negotiations and stressed there was ‘no grooming or manipulation of anyone’.
On Sunday Bashir broke his silence to claim he ‘loved’ Princess Diana and brazenly insisted it was ‘unreasonable and unfair’ to blame him for her death.
The disgraced former BBC reporter admitted he was ‘wrong’ to show Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, forged bank statements ahead of his landmark Panorama interview with her in 1995.
But he stressed: ‘It had no bearing on [Diana], it had no bearing on the interview.’
Bashir, 58, was speaking out for the first time since former judge Lord Dyson savaged him in a report last week for the ‘deceitful and dishonest’ tactics he used to gain access to the princess.’
In his report, Lord Dyson said Lord Hall had relied in ‘large part’ on ‘uncorroborated assertions’ from Bashir.
He found that the investigation which Lord Hall carried out with then head of weekly and special programmes Anne Sloman was ‘flawed and woefully ineffective’.
Lord Dyson was also mystified about why – in the absence of ‘a credible explanation’ of what Bashir had done – Lord Hall concluded Bashir was ‘an honest and honourable man’.
In a statement released on Thursday, Lord Hall accepted that his investigation into how Bashir secured the interview ‘fell well short of what was required’.
He said: ‘In hindsight, there were further steps we could and should have taken following complaints about Martin Bashir’s conduct.
‘I was wrong to give Martin Bashir the benefit of the doubt, basing that judgment as I did on what appeared to be deep remorse on his part.’
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