BBC to pay Tiggy Legge-Bourke ‘significant' damages over Martin Bashir smears

Tiggy Pettifer, née Legge-Bourke, was the nanny to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex between 1993 and 1999 – Heathcliff O’Malley for The Telegraph

Tiggy Legge-Bourke has been offered “significant” damages by the BBC for distressing smears spread by Martin Bashir.

The former nanny to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, now known as Tiggy Pettifer, is understood to have been offered a settlement over false claims made by the former BBC journalist to obtain his interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

An official inquiry concluded that Bashir told the Princess that her husband was in love with the children’s nanny. In contemporaneous notes recorded by Earl Spencer, the Princess’s brother, Bashir also said the pair had enjoyed a two-week holiday together.

It was also reported that Bashir went further and claimed that the Prince of Wales was having an affair with the nanny, who had gone on to have an abortion. Bashir even produced a fake receipt showing payment for the abortion, it has been claimed.

An official inquiry concluded that Martin Bashir told the Princess that the Prince of Wales was in love with Tiggy Legge-Bourke – Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

The BBC has now recognised the outrageous lies and the harm caused to Mrs Pettifer, 56, and is understood to have offered her a six-figure sum. Sources said they expected an agreement to be reached by the end of the month.

The BBC has offered a “significant” sum, said to be in excess of £100,000, and is expecting a speedy settlement.

“Tiggy Legge-Bourke was right at the centre of Bashir’s manipulation and it is right that the damage caused to her is recognised by the BBC,” said a source. The amount she is being offered is a closely guarded secret, but is understood to be six figures.

An independent inquiry by Lord Dyson, the former Master of the Rolls, concluded that Bashir had deployed deceit to secure his interview with the Princess. The Panorama interview broadcast in 1995 caused shock waves after she told Bashir that there were “three of us” in the marriage, in reference to the Prince of Wales’s affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall.

The inquiry was supplied with handwritten notes made by Earl Spencer, in which Bashir is claimed to have told the Princess that the Prince of Wales was “in love with” Ms Legge-Bourke, the nanny to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex from 1993 to 1999, and that the pair were planning to go on holiday together.

It has been further claimed that Bashir also told her that the nanny had had an abortion.

Tiggy Legge-Bourke with the Prince of Wales and his sons

Whatever the source of the smears, which Bashir denies spreading, the Princess became so convinced of their truth that at a Christmas party for palace staff in December 1995, she approached Ms Legge-Bourke and said to her: “So sorry about the baby.” The subsequent furore prompted an internal inquiry that showed the Princess’s claim was groundless.

On Friday, Mrs Pettifer, who quit her job as a nanny in 1999 after getting married, did not respond when approached by The Telegraph. She now runs a farmhouse bed and breakfast in Wales.

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer with the law firm Howard Kennedy, said Mrs Pettifer would have a good claim for libel damages and for the “emotional distress”.

BBC’s handling of Bashir ‘a catastrophe’

Mr Stephens said the “epicentre” for the allegations appeared to stem from Bashir and that the BBC was clearly unwilling to prolong any dispute.

He added: “The BBC’s handling of Bashir was a catastrophe turned into a disaster and as a consequence, the corporation recognises the least said, the soonest mended.”

Bashir enjoyed huge success on the back of securing the interview with the Princess, working in the US before rejoining the BBC as religious affairs correspondent in 2016. He quit earlier this year weeks before Lord Dyson’s damning report.

The BBC did not respond to a request for a comment on Friday.

Bashir, 58, who was off sick after major heart surgery before quitting the BBC, has admitted faking bank statements in 1995, but denied that they were used to secure the interview with the Princess.

He has denied faking any other documents and said that notes made by Earl Spencer and attributed to him were in fact comments made by the Princess. Lord Dyson did not accept Bashir’s version of events.

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