Matthew Norman’s Media Diary
07 March 2005 – With Martin Bashir facing a possible contempt charge for refusing to answer questions in the Michael Jackson trial, this seems the moment to consider how he came to make the documentary that led directly to the Jackson prosecution.
Several years ago, the journalist Jonathan Margolis was called by Uri Geller, whose biography he had written. Uri had Martin Bashir in the house, he explained, begging for his close chum Jackson’s phone number, and saying he wanted to make a show on him, and what did he think?
Well, said Jonathan, a man much respected by friends for his astute judgement, I can’t see any harm in it, can you? On this basis, Uri handed over the number.
A year later, Uri rang again to report that Mr Bashir was denying having suggested a £50,000 donation to an Aids charity in return for the number, so Uri had refused to help him court the singer.
When Mr Bashir had heard this, said Uri, he produced a letter, purportedly from Princess Diana, telling whomsoever it concerned that her interview with Martin Bashir had changed her life for the better, and was the best decision she ever made. When Uri remained unsure, Mr Bashir burst into tears.
He had to be honest, he said, but his career was in terrible shape, and his children almost without clothes. A kind-hearted man, Uri finally succumbed and promised to help facilitate the deal. After hearing all this, Jonathan nipped out for a coffee, and ran into a TV producer acquaintance, to whom he began to to relate the details.
He had barely begun when the chap raised an interruptive hand. “Don’t tell me, don’t tell me,” he said, “he got out the Diana letter, burst into tears and said he couldn’t feed his kids.” What an operator he is, this Bashir, and we ask the court to show the clemency for which American justice is so well respected across the globe.