Rogue reporter Martin Bashir faces a quadruple blast over claims he hoodwinked Michael Jackson – just as he did Princess Diana.
The singer’s nephew Taj Jackson accused Bashir of shamefully using “manipulated” footage and “unethical” journalism in the infamous Neverland documentary.
Taj’s dad Tito – Michael’s brother – told the Sunday Mirror: “Both Michael and Diana were victims of Bashir’s dark ambitions and dirty tricks and he is finally paying a price.”
Uri Geller – the TV psychic who introduced Bashir to Jackson – said the “super smooth” journalist used his Di connections to access Jackson.
And British minder Matt Fiddes, a former Jackson guard, said the singer’s relatives may sue Bashir.
The onslaught came as Bashir maintained his innocence, said he and his family “loved Diana”, they became friends – and still refused to accept he caused her any harm.
Bashir’s reputation was torn to shreds by Lord Dyson’s report into his Panorama interview with Di.
It found Bashir, 58, used fake bank papers to get the princess and brother Earl Spencer onside.
A whistleblower who tackled Bashir was fobbed off – and when he tried to alert a boss he was told “it’s none of your business”.
The new accusations around Jackson will heap pressure on the BBC to hold a full inquiry and police to probe any possible criminality around the Di interview.
Geller said: “I would urge a police investigation over his ordering forged bank statements.”
Jackson’s family and friends say Bashir, who by then had moved from the BBC to ITV, duped the singer into their 2003 interview.
The documentary focused on Jackson’s friendship with boys. The star had already faced allegations and would face many more as his reputation was widely tarnished – though he was cleared at a subsequent child sex abuse trial.
While criticism for Jackson’s behaviour remains valid, the fresh claims over Bashir’s behaviour cast doubt on his journalistic practices with hundreds of interviewees during his career at the BBC and elsewhere.
Nephew Taj believes the Bashir film contributed to his uncle’s untimely death in 2009, aged 50. Taj wrote online: “Bashir’s manipulated footage and unethical journalism is one of the main reasons my uncle is not here today.
"That trial broke him. Shame on those who provided cover for Bashir. Shame on those who rewarded him. My family deserve an investigation and apology too.”
Dad Tito said: “Bashir created a fake narrative about my brother, which becomes crystal clear when you view the out-takes Bashir kept secret.
"He used Michael’s trust and friendship with Diana to get the interview, manipulated Michael throughout the interview, then deceptively edited the footage.”
Geller claims Bashir produced a letter purportedly from Diana to gain access to Jackson, who was best man when he renewed his vows in 2001.
Geller, who believes in Jackson’s innocence, told us: “What convinced me to introduce him to Michael was a letter he pulled out of his pocket.
“It was folded two or three times and there was a logo on it. He said it was from Princess Diana, writing to him about how happy she was with the interview.
“I had felt unease, but it was the Diana letter that won my feelings over. He was a super-smooth operator. I regret that terrible introduction. It was the beginning of, I believe, Michael’s spiral downwards.”
Former minder Matt Fiddes told us: “The family are considering their legal position.
“They believe, ultimately, that Bashir’s portrayal of Michael and lies he spun destroyed his career.
“They say Bashir never kept promises, including an agreement to edit out material Michael didn’t want in. He used the Diana letter to gain Michael’s trust, but ended up betraying him.”
Bashir is also accused of wrongdoing from the families of other interviewees, including soccer legend George Best, whose ex-wife Alex has spoken out, claiming he manipulated her and his agent.
The journalist also angered the mother of Babes in the Wood murder victim Karen Hadaway, who says he took away clothing for DNA testing and then lost it – before later claiming he couldn’t remember ever meeting her.
As the Dyson fallout continued, ex-BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall yesterday quit as chairman of the National Gallery. He said: “It is clear my continuing in the role would be a distraction to an institution I care deeply about.”
He was heavily criticised for his inquiry into how the Diana interview was obtained.
On Thursday, Prince William slammed the BBC, saying the interview added to the “fear, paranoia and isolation” which he witnessed in his mother. On Friday police said they are considering a case against Bashir over the fake bank statements.
PM Boris Johnson also intervened, saying he hoped the BBC would “take every possible step to make sure nothing like this happens again”.
Former Beeb royal correspondent Michael Cole, who was friends with Diana, said: “What went on in the offices of the BBC’s flagship programme sounds like the Mafia meeting to rub out its enemies and bury bodies. Seasoned journalists who tried to warn of Martin Bashir’s underhand tactics were portrayed as jealous troublemakers and sacked.”
Bashir, meanwhile, told the Sunday Times: “I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did.
“Everything we did was as she wanted. My family and I loved her.”
He said he is “deeply sorry” to Princes William and Harry, adding: “I can’t imagine what their family must feel each day.”
Bashir even produces a picture of Diana visiting his wife in hospital the day she gave birth to their third child. He adds: “We were friends.”
He admits he showed Earl Spencer forged statements, adding: “Obviously I regret it, it was wrong. But it had no bearing on the interview.”
The Sunday Mirror approached the BBC and ITV for comments.
Aug 1995 Bashir asks Matt Wiessler to create fake bank documents.
Sept14, 1995 Earl Spencer claims Bashir showed the documents purporting to show payments from intelligence services to Princess Diana’s and Prince Charles’ private secretaries. Lord Dyson has said Bashir is likely to have created some of the paperwork himself.
Sept19, 1995 Spencer introduces Bashir to Diana.
Nov5, 1995 The interview takes place.
Nov20, 1995 Twenty-three million watch the Panorama interview.
Late Nov, 1995 Wiessler tells Panorama bosses he is concerned the fake bank statements may have
been used to obtain the interview by deception.
Dec22, 1995 Diana writes note saying she wasn’t shown documents by Bashir that she wasn’t already aware of.
Mar23, 1996 Bashir admits to BBC bosses he had lied about documents.
April4, 1996 BBC’s Tim Suter sends note to Bashir saying his approach in securing the interview was “absolutely straight and fair” but that some material breached BBC guidelines.
April1996 Tony Hall opens inquiry. he tells BBC governors Bashir commissioned fake statements because “he wasn’t thinking” and believes him “contrite”. Says Wiessler “will not work for the BBC again”.
1998 Bashir leaves the BBC and joins ITV.
Nov18, 2020 BBC commissions independent investigation under former High Court judge Justice Lord Dyson.
May14, 2021 Bashir quits as Religion Editor.
May20, 2021 Dyson’s report describes Bashir as “devious” and “dishonest”.