Terry Venables seeking to be ‘cleared’ by BBC inquiry into Martin Bashir’s methods

The former England manager Terry Venables is hoping to be vindicated by the BBC’s new investigation into the working methods of Princess Diana’s interviewer Martin Bashir, it has emerged.

Mr Venables is understood to be furious at the BBC’s handling of the scandal, telling friends that he believed the corporation allowed Mr Bashir to ‘get away’ for years with “falsely implicating” him in “controversial and underhanded” financial dealings.

He now hopes MPs will widen their own inquiry into what methods Mr Bashir used to obtain his world famous interview with the Princess of Wales to include claims that the BBC reporter also forged documents so as to portray Mr Venables as acting unethically.

It is understood that Mr Venables is “delighted” the BBC has been forced by the latest revelations to announce an independent investigation into the Diana interview and the methods used by Mr Bashir. 

A friend added: “The question is what took them so long? This business is flabbergasting and what took place is unbelievable. How could the corporation turn such a blind eye to what was going on?”

Martin Bashir interviewing Diana, Princess of Wales, in November 1995

Credit: TIm Graham/Corbis Historical

Two episodes of Panorama presented by Mr Bashir in 1993 and 1994 made potentially ruinous allegations regarding how Mr Venables had raised his £1m share of the funds that rescued Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, while he was chief executive.

A document reproduced on screen purported to show a schedule of assets used as collateral for the £1million loan from Landhurst Leasing and was accompanied by Mr Venables’ signature. 

Mr Venables did not deny receiving a loan, but maintained that he did not take part in a "sale and leaseback" deal, as the programme claimed, involving assets he did not own. 

Neither the police, nor the Department of Trade and Industry, found any evidence of criminal behaviour, but the revelations, along with other claims about his financial dealings in football, dogged his subsequent managerial career.

The BBC’s treatment of Mr Venables has been thrown under the spotlight once again, following renewed revelations about Mr Bashir’s use of forged bank statements, allegedly in an attempt to pressure Diana’s brother into persuading her to grant him the interview which sent shockwaves through both the monarchy and the nation when she told him: "There were three of us in this marriage.”

The fake documents were said to have been used to prey on the Princess’s insecurities and were also said to have been shown to Earl Spencer, who in turn introduced Mr Bashir to his sister.

They suggested that a former member of staff had betrayed him and was acting as a paid informant. This was false.

The BBC has admitted the documents were created, but concluded following an internal investigation in 1996 that they had no bearing on the interview and exonerated Mr Bashir.

There have also been unsubstantiated claims Mr Bashir secured an interview with Louise Woodward, the former British nanny convicted in the US in 1997 of the involuntary manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen while he was in her care, by promising to get her into King’s College to study law and find her summer work at the BBC.

Louise Woodward was also interviewed by Martin Bashir for BBC Panorama 

Credit: Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs

The BBC denied making any offers in return for the interview, saying that Mr Bashir’s contacts with the Woodward family secured him the scoop.

Cross-party MPs on the powerful digital, culture, media and sport select committee will meet this week to consider launching their own investigation into whether Mr Bashir tricked Princess Diana into giving the interview. They will also look into any alleged cover-up by the corporation.

Tim Davie, the corporation’s director general, last week confirmed a fresh and independent investigation would be launched, adding: “The BBC is taking this very seriously and we want to get to the truth. We are in the process of commissioning a robust and independent investigation.”

The BBC said on Friday that it had discovered a previously lost letter from Princess Diana in which she allegedly says she was not coerced into the interview with Mr Bashir.

Mr Venables – who took England to the semi-finals of Euro ‘96 – has long suspected the evidence presented against him in the Panorama episodes was “cooked up”.

A friend of the former England manager told The Telegraph: “Terry himself thought at the time he was being stitched up and that the methods being used against him were terribly dubious. His colleagues believe that forged documentation was used against him. How can the BBC take itself seriously now if this is what was going on then?”

Following his departure from football management Mr Venables, 77, went on to run the luxury La Escondida hotel in Alicante, Spain. 

However he is now back in Britain with his wife Yvette, where he has been taking a keen interest in the apparent unravelling of Mr Bashir’s until now glittering career.

A spokesman for Mr Venables said: “We are watching the situation very closely.”

Martin Bashir was not available for comment.