Woodward to get `Diana treatment' in BBC interview

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The Independent Online
ON THE DAY that Louise Woodward returned to Britain, it emerged that she has agreed to talk face-to-face on television with Martin Bashir, the BBC reporter who shot to stardom with his "Queen of Hearts" interview in 1995 with the Princess of Wales.

Facing reporters at Manchester airport, Woodward said that "contrary to rumours and speculation", she had not sold her story to any media outlet. She added that she had plans only for a single interview - with the BBC.

Woodward, who was flanked at the press conference by her parents, once more denied she had killed the boy who had been in her care. "I did not kill baby Matthew," she said.

Looking forward to the rest of her life, she conceded that it could never be the same again because of her manslaughter conviction.

But, almost musing, she went on: "I'd like to go to university like I was planning to do in the first place. I'd like to do what any other 20-year-old would do, like having a part-time job."

A spokeswoman for the BBC confirmed that Mr Bashir, who is attached to Panorama, would conduct the Woodward interview. She denied suggestions, however, that the Woodward family had made the choice of Bashir a condition of agreeing to do the piece.

"It was we who approached the Woodward family, not the other way around," the spokeswoman said, adding that Mr Bashir had been working for several weeks on the Woodward affair. None the less, echoes of Mr Bashir's encounter with the Princess of Wales, when she spoke publicly for the first time and with astonishing frankness, about her doomed marriage to Prince Charles and spoke of her ambition of becoming the "Queen of Hearts", is certain to raise some eyebrows.

Asked whether, by assigning the interview to Mr Bashir, the BBC was unavoidably conferring a special status on a woman who is a convicted baby killer, the spokeswoman said: "No, I wouldn't say we were doing that at all".

While plans have not been finally settled, it is likely that the interview will be aired soon and before the end of the World Cup. The BBC said no money would be paid to the Woodwards.

Woodward arrived in Manchester by car from Heathrow Airport, where she had landed, with her father, Gary, at 4.40am on a British Airways flight from Boston.

BA confirmed yesterday that it had paid for the first class tickets on the 747 jumbo jet for both the Woodwards. The tickets would usually cost pounds 2,800 each.