Uri Geller has said he will regret helping Martin Bashir to secure his world exclusive interview with Michael Jackson until the day he dies.
The psychic has now called on ITV to investigate the presenter over the ‘slick’ methods he used to land his controversial scoop with the king of pop.
Bashir apparently used a note from Princess Diana which praised him for the now infamous BBC Panorama interview to win Geller’s confidence as he sought access to the global superstar.
In the wake of Lord Dyson’s damning report about Bashir’s use of ‘deceit’ before the Diana interview in 1995, Geller drew similarities in the way he clinched the subsequent Jackson chat.
The Tonight special, entitled Living with Michael Jackson, had shattering consequences for Geller and Jackson after it aired in 2003.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk from his home in Israel, the 74-year-old mystifier said he will ‘feel guilty until the day I die’ for helping Bashir gain access to another of the world’s best-known figures.
The journalist visited Geller’s then home in Sonning-on-Thames, Berkshire, a year before the broadcast after learning that Jackson was prepared to give an interview but had yet choose a host.
‘I vividly remember him pulling out from his wallet a crumpled-up letter folded a few times which he said was written by Princess Diana,’ Geller said.
‘The letter had Diana’s logo, I cannot remember if it was the Kensington Palace logo or her own logo but I scanned through it and it was a thank you letter to Martin, saying how much she enjoyed the interview.
‘When I saw the letter I thought “wow”. In my opinion there was something about him that made me feel uneasy, but I knew that Michael loved Princess Diana to bits and I thought if Martin is the right person to interview Princess Diana then maybe he is the right person to interview Michael, which obviously today I see as a devastating mistake from my side.
‘I will carry the guilty feeling with me until the day I die.’
Jackson went on to make disturbing comments in the interview, such as his habit of sleeping alongside teenage boys, and the footage led to his trial for child molestation two years later.
Bashir refused to answer questions in court where it was alleged that he had promised the star a meeting with the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and a tour of Africa to help children with AIDS.
Although Jackson was acquitted, Geller views the film as part of a downward spiral that would ultimately lead to the singer’s death in 2009, aged 50.
Geller recalled: ‘After reading that letter I took him to Michael Jackson’s hotel in London, I took him up to Michael’s room, and left them alone to talk. The rest is history.
‘What shocked me when I saw the documentary, I could not believe that Michael didn’t call his agent or his lawyer or his image or his PR people before he signed a release, either to Bashir or ITV.
‘Hearing now what’s happening around Bashir, I cannot tell you that the letter Bashir showed me that day in my house was a fabricated letter or a real letter, but he sure was a slick operator, in my opinion.’
Geller’s long-running friendship with Jackson, who had been his best man when he renewed his wedding vows to wife Hanna in 2001, was tarnished.
The spoon-bending psychic, who now lives near Tel Aviv, doesn’t lay Jackson’s death from a drugs overdose at Bashir’s door but says the interview was a turning point for the worst.
‘Every big star goes through turmoil,’ Geller said.
‘I can name you many who have died from drug overdoses.
‘Michael was already on sleeping pills and I told him straight to his face with my Israeli chutzpah that, “Michael, if you continue this, it will kill you”.
‘All I can say for certain is that after the documentary it seems that his life started spiralling downwards.’
Bashir faked bank statements showing Princess Diana was under surveillance and also produced a letter from the royal on official Kensington Palace stationery as he clinched the intimate interview.
Although the whereabouts and provenance of the letter shown to Geller is not known, he believes Bashir’s methods in the years beyond the Diana tell-all warrant further investigation.
While sympathy for Jackson has waned after two men made allegations of sexual abuse in another documentary, Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me, Geller’s loyalty to his friend remains steadfast.
‘The ITV interview was a massive documentary which was sold to probably sixty countries around the world, maybe more, and I think, absolutely, the situation should be investigated,’ Geller said.
‘Michael Jackson is still considered by millions of people to be an icon, a legend, a superstar, there’s no doubt that he’s sitting up there with the likes of John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
‘He’s still huge worldwide, so now this thing is unfolding with Bashir I think very soon the truth will come out of what exactly happened there.’
Bashir has said he ‘deeply regrets’ faking the bank statements and they did not influence Princess Diana’s ‘personal choice’ to take part in the interview, which is confirmed in her own handwriting and other ‘compelling evidence’.
Metro.co.uk has approached ITV for comment.
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