Steve Davies: Princess Diana’s former chauffeur wins court settlement against BBC over 'unfounded' allegations

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Princess Diana’s former chauffeur has won an out-of-court settlement against the BBC over ‘unfounded’ allegations

Princess Diana’s former chauffeur has won an out-of-court settlement against the BBC after a journalist falsely accused him of leaking information to the press. Steve Davies was unexpectedly let go by the Princess of Wales in 1995 and launched a legal action against the corporation after discovering the reason while watching the Netflix series, The Crown.

Disgraced BBC journalist Martin Bashir was trying to get an interview with Diana for his Panorama show, and in an apparent effort to gain her trust, he falsely suggested that various staffers had betrayed her. Among them was Davies, who Bashir said "feeds (the now-defunct) Today newspaper," adding, "Change your chauffeur." The driver was sacked six months later “without explanation” after “many years” in the role.

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It was after the allegations were repeated in the season five of The Crown that they were brought to his attention. An agreed statement was read out in court by lawyers for both sides, in which the allegation by Bashir was described as “serious and unfounded”.

A lawyer for the BBC told the High Court: “The BBC accepts that the allegation made about the claimant was and is wholly false and should never have been made, and that it constitutes an attack on the claimant’s reputation both personally and professionally.

Princess Diana’s former chauffeur Steve Davies has won an out-of-court settlement against the BBC over ‘unfounded’ allegationsPrincess Diana’s former chauffeur Steve Davies has won an out-of-court settlement against the BBC over ‘unfounded’ allegations
Princess Diana’s former chauffeur Steve Davies has won an out-of-court settlement against the BBC over ‘unfounded’ allegations

“The BBC accepts that the allegation was likely to have caused HRH the Princess of Wales to doubt the claimant’s loyalty and professionalism and may well have contributed to the claimant’s redundancy six months later."

Persephone Bridgman Baker of Carter-Ruck on behalf of Davies said he had been devastated by the termination of his employment with the princess, with whom he had maintained a close relationship through many years of working for her.

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He had been “tormented by speculation” about what possible reason there could be for losing his job and had been acutely embarrassed about the dismissal, added the statement.

“It is a matter of profound regret to him that, as he now knows, the princess believed that he had betrayed her, and he was unable to correct the position before her tragic death.”

Davies said in a statement: "I am relieved that I have been able to clear my name, and my professional reputation as a chauffeur, through this legal process. I was shocked to hear that these false allegations had been made about me almost 30 years ago and were very likely to be the cause of my sudden termination."

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