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£600,000 bid for Diana letters

London, Sept. 21: James Hewitt has received an offer of £600,000 for the love letters sent to him by the late Diana, Princess of Wales from a businessman who says it is his intention to return them to the Royal Family.

Ian Wills, a 41-year-old consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, signed an agreement in principle with Hewitt earlier this year and offered securities and his home in Kingswood, Surrey, as guarantees.

Despite it being the only offer Hewitt has received since he put the letters up for sale eight months ago, the former army officer remains reluctant to go through with the deal. He believes that he can yet secure a figure closer to the £10 million he originally wanted, and is hopeful that a bidding war for the letters, written between 1989 and 1991, may still occur.

Wills said yesterday: “I just wanted to bring an end to the affair of the letters. I wanted to do it because I could and it just seemed the right thing to do. I also liked Hewitt and I knew the money would help him. I employed a publicist who told me that I could recoup a certain amount of the money by selling the story of the purchase to a newspaper, but I was still reconciled to taking a substantial hit on the deal.”

Wills has a colourful past. His business career began to take off shortly after 1987 when he was described as a “street trader” when he was fined for attempting to sell copies of the book Spycatcher, written by Peter Wright, the former MI5 officer, which had been banned from sale in Britain under the Official Secrets Act.

Wills was adamant, however, that he was acting with the purest of motives over Diana’s letters, that he would hand them over to her sons, Princes William and Harry, and had no intention of trying to profit from them.

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