'I was bribed to perjure myself over Charles allegations'by DOMINIC TURNBULL, Mail on Sunday
Last updated at 11:03 13 June 2004
Prince Charles has always denied the allegations
Mr Smith said reporters from The Sunday Telegraph repeatedly offered him £60,000 to agree with their version of events in a failed 'sting' operation, during which they secretly filmed him.
And in a disgraceful bid to coerce him into supporting their claims they plied Mr Smith, a recovering alcoholic, with drink.
Last night Mr Smith said he only contemplated meeting Sunday Telegraph reporters because he is still desperate to pay off more than £30,000 in debts. He is unemployed and receives only £54 a week in benefits.
He said: "They told me they would pay me £60,000 and that they would pay the tax on that sum. But I never agreed to give The Sunday Telegraph an interview, I never signed any form of affidavit with them and they certainly didn't tell me that they were covertly taping our conversation.
"They told me that if The Sunday Telegraph was to pay me £60,000 I would have to change my story. They didn't really tell me in detail how they wanted me to change it, but that became clear when we had further telephone conversations."
Mr Smith said The Sunday Telegraph bought him two white wine spritzers during their 45-minute conversation at the Hilton hotel in Newport, South Wales.
He said: "They offered to pay me £60,000. For that, I told them I would say that I had not witnessed Prince Charles in an incident with one of his senior aides.
But had I said that, it would not have been true.
I still stick by what I have always said. I told The Mail on Sunday what I witnessed and that is the truth. "One of the main reasons I have spoken out about this is that I am still deeply angry with the senior Royal aide who raped me. I have spoken out because I want the truth to come out.
"When I was offered £60,000, I saw it as a way to pay off all my debts. They have caused me a great deal of heartache and stress.
"I am still on a very sticky wicket and I saw their offer as a way to try and get out of all my problems.
"I am still receiving demanding letters every week to pay off what I owe, but I simply haven't got the money. The only thing that was going through my mind during my conversation with The Sunday Telegraph was paying off my debts."
Asked if he had agreed to write a letter of apology to the Prince of Wales, Mr Smith said: "I said I would sign an apology to Prince Charles because I still respect him after all the years I spent serving him and Princess Diana. I still hold him in very high regard.
"But what I told The Mail on Sunday from the very outset was the truth, and I still stick by that story.
"I was bemused after the two men from The Sunday Telegraph left the Hilton after just 45 minutes. They just said goodbye and that they would be in touch. They had bought me two drinks and I was left feeling bewildered about what the meeting had been about.
"They just walked out, I had to go to the bank to withdraw some money to pay for a taxi home."
Mr Smith said a Sunday Telegraph reporter first rang him "out of the blue" at home two weeks ago. The reporter told him he was keen to discuss the exclusive story Mr Smith had previously given The Mail on Sunday, in which he claimed he had witnessed an incident involving Prince Charles with one of his senior aides.
He said the reporter "wanted to tie up one or two things" and he was travelling to Newport, where he would meet him at the Hilton.
Falklands veteran Mr Smith, who survived the bombing of the troop ship Sir Galahad, said they had arranged to meet at 4pm, but The Sunday Telegraph pair were half-an-hour late. He said: "One of the first things they said to me was, 'what would you like to drink?' I told them I would have a white wine and soda.
"The reporter introduced himself as Daniel. The other man just introduced himself as 'his friend'."
Father-of-two Mr Smith has freely admitted he has had a drink problem and that he suffered post-traumatic stress after the Falklands.
Last night, a Mail on Sunday spokesman said: "George Smith told his story to Diana, Princess of Wales, and to the police in a formal statement which formed the basis of a criminal investigation.
"We find it deeply regrettable that The Sunday Telegraph has offered this vulnerable man large sums of money in an attempt to trick him into perjuring himself. It is also disgraceful that in their failed attempt to obtain a so-called "confession" from Mr Smith, they plied a known alcoholic with alcoholic drink.
"It should also be noted that following an injunction obtained by a Royal servant, The Mail on Sunday gave an undertaking not to publish Mr Smith's second allegation and had considered that matter closed."
Royal insiders were astonished by the Sunday Telegraph article, which had all the hallmarks of being orchestrated by Charles's private secretary Sir Michael Peat and his new communications secretary Paddy Harverson.
A friend of the Prince of Wales said: "The Prince will be horrified. His office appears to have been involved in raising the issues of the alleged rapes and Diana's tapes all over again."
Royal insiders fear it will inevitably reopen the issue of the Prince's relationship with his closest servants, and in particular the position of his former valet Michael Fawcett.
Mr Fawcett, who quit in the immediate wake of the Peat Report into the running of the Royal household, has set up an event management business with Clarence House as its biggest client.
The Mail on Sunday first interviewed Mr Smith in November 2002. He claimed he had been brutally raped by a member of the Prince of Wales's staff.
He spoke out after an internal Kensington Palace inquiry into the allegations and a separate investigation by Scotland Yard detectives.
The Palace inquiry was last year severely criticised in the Peat Report, which found that the allegation of assault was "hushed up" by Charles and his household.
More than half of Sir Michael's report focused on how Charles's aides had "suggested a desire to avoid a proper investigation".
Among those heavily censured for their role in suppressing the probe into Mr Smith's claims were Charles's lawyer at the time, Fiona Shackleton, who took no action for two weeks after being alerted to the claims.
Instead, her main concern, the report found, was to pay off Mr Smith. She also said she was unwilling to act because the alleged assailant held too powerful a position.
The Mail on Sunday interviewed Mr Smith again in November last year, when he made further allegations concerning an incident involving the Prince of Wales and a Royal servant.
In a bid to prevent his comments being made public, a Royal servant alleged to be involved in the incident gagged The Mail on Sunday by obtaining an injunction. The newspaper gave an undertaking not to publish these allegations and has never done so.
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