Woodward tells BBC 'somebody had to pay'

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The Independent Online
LOUISE Woodward will tell television viewers tonight, in her first interview since returning to Britain, that she was blamed for the death of baby Matthew Eappen because "somebody had to pay".

Woodward, convicted of the manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew, claims that she was made a scapegoat for his death. "If the parents didn't do it, who did? There's only you left," she tells the BBC's Martin Bashir in a special edition of Panorama.

"There's the whole feeling that somebody had to pay - and that somebody had to be me."

Millions of people are expected to watch the programme, hoping that Woodward bares her soul to Mr Bashir in the same way as his last high-profile subject, Diana, Princess of Wales.

The BBC said yesterday that Woodward talks about life as an au pair in the Eappen household in Boston, her view of the family, her arrest, her reaction to the trial and the fight to clear her name.

The interview, which was recorded on Saturday at a secret location in her home village of Elton, Cheshire, also covers "her desperate attempts to cope with Matthew" on the day he was admitted to hospital with brain injuries, according to the BBC.

Woodward, 20, discusses the support she received in Britain, the criticisms of her in the American media and her reaction to the decision to permit her to return home.

She also explains why, at the press conference she held on the day that she flew in from the United States, she said she had no message for the Eappen family.

The interview, which was still being edited yesterday, will go out at 10pm to avoid clashing with the England-Romania World Cup match.

Woodward's mother, Sue, has promised it contains "lots of answers" to questions about Matthew's death.

Speaking at the family's home over the weekend, Mrs Woodward said: "She is anxious to speak. You will get lots of answers.

"She feels anxious to be able to speak. She wants people to be able to listen to what she's got to say. She wants people to see her as a person."

The BBC has been at pains to stress that the choice of Mr Bashir to question Woodward had nothing to do with his "Queen of Hearts" interview with Diana in 1995, in which she spoke with astonishing candour about her marriage to Prince Charles.

It says Mr Bashir was one of several reporters involved in the Woodward story, and denies a suggestion that the family insisted that the interview be conducted by him.

Woodward was not paid for talking to Panorama, and the BBC said yesterday that it intended to distribute the programme internationally for free.

The pounds 40,000 payment to the family for interviews last year with the Daily Mail - only recently acknowledged by the newspaper - has been defended by their MP, Andrew Miller.

He said that it had not breached the Press Complaints Commission's code of practice.