MBN

NEWS

Princess Diana’s ex-chauffeur compensated by BBC after The Crown revealed Bashir lied about him

The man who got The Godfather made – by making friends with the Mob
Published Time: 14.05.2024 - 21:40:17 Modified Time: 14.05.2024 - 21:40:17

Steve Davies lost his job in 1996 ‘without explanation’ after Martin Bashir alleged driver was leaking confidential information to the press The BBC is to pay compensation to Princess Diana’s former chauffeur after the Netflix programme The Crown revealed that Martin Bashir had lied about him

Steve Davies lost his job in 1996 ‘without explanation’ after Martin Bashir alleged driver was leaking confidential information to the press


The BBC is to pay compensation to Princess Diana’s former chauffeur after the Netflix programme The Crown revealed that Martin Bashir had lied about him.

Steve Davies lost his job in March 1996 “without explanation” after “many years” in the role but is now thought to have been paid around £20,000 by the BBC in compensation.

The High Court heard on Tuesday that he was “devastated” by the sudden termination of his contract, having maintained a close professional relationship with the Princess throughout many years.

He was “tormented” by speculation about why it had happened and was “acutely embarrassed” about his dismissal.

However, he later discovered, via an episode of The Crown, that Bashir had alleged he was leaking confidential information to the press.

The former BBC journalist, who at the time was trying to secure his Panorama interview with the late Princess, told her in September 1995 that Mr Davies could not be trusted and should be replaced.

Handwritten note

A handwritten note of the conversation was recorded by Earl Spencer, the Princess’s brother, and included in an annex of Lord Dyson’s 2021 report about the scandal.

“Steve Davies (chauffeur) feeds Today newspaper;” he wrote, adding that Bashir had advised: “Change your chauffeur”.

However the detail had received little attention in the reporting of Lord Dyson’s findings until it was picked up by the producers of Netflix drama The Crown, and used in season five, broadcast in late 2022.

The scene showed Bashir telling the Princess that his sources at MI6 had informed him that Mr Davies, as well as other members of her staff, was in on a deal to spy on her because she was considered a threat.

Mr Davies sued the BBC for slander, citing Bashir’s “serious and unfounded allegations”.

His solicitor, Persephone Bridgman Baker, told the High Court: “The suggestion that the claimant violated the Princess’s trust in this way created a serious blot on his character.

“It is a matter of profound regret to him that, as he now knows, the Princess believed that he had betrayed her, and he was unable to correct the position before her tragic death.”


Ms Bridgman Baker said the fact that the allegation had been repeated on The Crown had caused “great distress”, not least as he still works as a chauffeur.

“In all the circumstances the claimant holds the BBC liable for the serious impact the repetition of this false allegation has had,” she added.

The BBC accepted that the allegations were totally fabricated.

Samuel Rowe, for the BBC, apologised to Mr Davies on behalf of the corporation.

He told the court “The BBC accepts that the allegation made about the claimant was and is wholly false and should never have been made, and that it constitutes an attack on the Claimant’s reputation both personally and professionally.

“The BBC accepts that the allegation was likely to have caused HRH the Princess of Wales to doubt the claimant’s loyalty and professionalism and may well have contributed to the claimant’s redundancy six months later.”

The BBC is understood to have paid Mr Davies around £20,000 in compensation, as well as his legal fees. BBC insiders suggested the payment was for “essentially a Netflix portrayal”.

Lord Dyson, the former Master of the Rolls, published a scathing report in 2021, concluding that Bashir had deployed “deceitful behaviour” to secure the explosive interview and that the BBC had covered it up in a “woefully ineffective” internal investigation led by former director-general Lord Hall.

At the time, Prince William described his “indescribable sadness” that the interview had contributed significantly to his mother’s “fear, paranoia and isolation” in the final years of her life.

‘Haunted’ the Royal family

Comments

More stories

More from the Royal family

More from The Telegraph

NEWS