MARTIN Bashir has apologised to Princes William and Harry but insists he "loved" their mum and says his bombshell Panorama interview did not harm her.
The shamed journalist spoke out after both of Princess Diana's sons rounded on him and the BBC in the wake of a shocking report which slammed its handling of the now infamous 1995 TV chat.
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“I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did,” Bashir insisted.
“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.”
He then went on to say Diana's sons are still in his thoughts, reports the Sunday Times.
Bashir said: “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.”
However, he rejected claims he duped Diana into the interview by feeding her outrageous lies.
“Even in the early 1990s, there were stories and secretly recorded phone calls. I wasn’t the source of any of that,” he said.
He also hit back at Earl Spencer's claims that he was in some way responsible for his sister's death.
“I don’t feel I can be held responsible for many of the other things that were going on in her life, and the complex issues surrounding those decisions,” Bashir said.
“I can understand the motivation [of Earl Spencer’s comments] 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.”
On Thursday night, William blasted the “lurid and false claims” Bashir made to get the interview with his mum.
The Duke of Cambridge said the lies about the Royal Family “played on her fears and fuelled paranoia” – while brother Harry said the probe was the "first step towards justice" for their mum.
Wills emphatically slammed the BBC for the interview and its fallout, insisting the failings “not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down”.
In a heartfelt outpouring, the Duke of Cambridge told of his “indescribable sadness” that his tragic mother had been tricked and deceived by Bashir and failed by the Beeb and its leaders.
Welcoming Lord Dyson’s bombshell report into how Bashir conned Diana into giving the Panorama interview, and the Corporation’s cover-up into his behaviour, William said: “The findings are extremely concerning.
“It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse. And has since hurt countless others.
“It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.
“But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived.
"She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.”
And brother Harry also released a statement from his home in the US, paying tribute to his mother's "unquestionable honesty".
He said: "Our mother was an incredible woman who dedicated her life to service. She was resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest."
The 36-year-old added: "That is the first step towards justice and truth. Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these – and even worse- are still widespread today. Then, and now, it's bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication.
"Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life. Let's remember who she was and what she stood for."
William, just 13 at the time of the broadcast and 15 when his mother died, spoke candidly in news reports last night following the publication of Lord Dyson’s damning report.
It found Bashir forged bank statements, told Diana she was being spied on and that Prince Charles was having an affair with Tiggy Legge-Bourke — Harry and William’s nanny.
Bashir spun malicious tales in a bid to win her trust and secure a world-exclusive interview amid her divorce from Prince Charles.
After finally agreeing to speak with Bashir, Diana referred to Camilla Parker Bowles, now Charles’s wife, when she sensationally said: “There were three of us in the marriage.”
The revelation caused shock waves across the world and led to the princess being “cast adrift” and left to fend for herself outside the royal circle.
Two years later she died in a car crash in a Paris tunnel.
In emotional revelations from royal sources, the Duke of Cambridge is said to harbour “sad memories” from the time of the bombshell interview, watched by 23 million Brits.
And in a nod to the effect it had on his vulnerable mother, insiders said: “William remembers the majorly overwhelming sense of fear, isolation and paranoia Diana suffered in the final years of her life after that interview.
“The BBC majorly contributed to that.”
They added: “Diana was led astray to make statements and say things that otherwise were not true and it formed a narrative around her that she was unstable and a schemer.
“This narrative has been there for 25 years — and it is still inaccurately told today in TV shows such as The Crown. But the narrative is false.”
Diana’s family fear the interview led to bitterness in her divorce with Charles — and even harmed his reputation in the eyes of the public with false claims of an affair with their nanny.
“It damaged Charles too,” insiders claimed.
And it is understood Prince William does not buy into the claim that Bashir was a “rogue reporter” — instead blasting the BBC for trying to lay blame solely on their reporter.
A source said: “Clearly there were senior figures and leaders at the BBC who knew what was going on, and to dismiss what happened as an isolated incident is not accurate.”
Royal biographer Penny Junor said: “Clearly the interview was devastating for the Royal Family.
“It was devastating to the boys. William watched it in his housemaster’s room in Eton. The interview led to the Queen saying ‘Enough’s enough you should now divorce’.”
She added: “I also suspect at the time Diana really enjoyed the interview and got a buzz out of it.
“She was cross, hurt and angry and sticking it to Charles. But she regretted it later.”
Royal experts last night also praised William for sticking up for his late mother in the wake of the devastating revelations.
Angela Levin, Prince Harry’s biographer, said: “It is beyond awful for the BBC to take advantage of someone in such a vulnerable state and tell lies in order to do so. What a brave man William is.
“You see him as a future king speaking out when it is necessary. And it is necessary now.”
Diana’s former private secretary Patrick Jephson described Bashir’s lies as “wicked”.
Speaking on last night’s Panorama, he blasted the rogue reporter, saying: “What makes it more wicked is the degree of detail which Martin Bashir appears to have gone into.
“From Martin Bashir’s perspective I was the obstacle that had to be removed. By removing me from a position of trust it left the way open for him to give her any yarn he wanted to try and ingratiate himself with her.”
Patrick told Panorama that Diana was “cast adrift” from her “royal support structure” because of the claims.
Another royal expert, Richard Fitzsimmons, said: “William is rightly outraged with revelations that point to Bashir and BBC preying on Diana’s insecurities and fears at that time of her life, sadly shortly before her divorce and two years before she died.”
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