BBC forced to hand back Bafta award after Martin Bashir’s Princess Diana interview
Princess Diana: Expert discusses BBC Panorama interview
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Lord Dyson, a retired judge, led the inquiry and today published a report into how the infamous 1995 BBC Panorama interview with the Princess of Wales was obtained. It found Mr Bashir used “deceitful behaviour” and was in “serious breach” of the BBC’s producer guidelines.
The report added Mr Bashir broke BBC rules by mocking up fake bank statements and showing them to Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, in order to gain exclusive access to the princess.
The bombshell interview was watched by more than 20 million people and viewers saw Diana share intimate details about her troubled marriage to Prince Charles.
Diana famously stated “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”.
The BBC scoop went onto receive a number of awards, including a Bafta in the talkshow category in 1996.
The BBC has today apologised and accepted the findings of the report.
The broadcaster has also said it will not keep any accolades it received from the Panorama interview.
In a statement, the broadcaster said: “The BBC is today writing to a number of individuals involved or linked to these events to apologise directly. We recognise that it has taken far too long to get to the truth.
“The 1995 Panorama interview received a number of awards at the time.
“We do not believe it is acceptable to retain these awards because of how the interview was obtained.”
The report by Lord Dyson said an internal investigation by the BBC in 1996 was “woefully ineffective”.
The report found the BBC inquiry “did not scrutinise Mr Bashir’s account with the necessary degree of scepticism and caution”.
Lord Dyson added: “I have concluded that, without justification, the BBC covered up in its press logs such facts as it had been able to establish about how Mr Bashir secured the interview; and failed to mention the issue at all on any news programme and thereby fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark.”
Former director-general Lord Tony Hall, who was director of BBC news and current affairs when the Diana interview was aired, said the initial BBC inquiry “fell well short of what was required”.
He added: “In hindsight, there were further steps we could and should have taken following complaints about Martin Bashir’s conduct.
“I was wrong to give Martin Bashir the benefit of the doubt, basing that judgment as I did on what appeared to be deep remorse on his part.
“Throughout my 35-year career at the BBC, I have always acted in ways I believe were fair, impartial and with the public interest front and centre.
“While Lord Dyson does not criticise my integrity, I am sorry that our investigation failed to meet the standards that were required.”
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Mr Bashir has apologised for faking the documents and said it was “a stupid thing do to do” and “an action I deeply regret”.
The 58-year-old added he felt it had “no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview”.
He said: “Evidence handed to the inquiry in her own handwriting (and published alongside the report today) unequivocally confirms this, and other compelling evidence presented to Lord Dyson reinforces it.
“In fact, despite his other findings, Lord Dyson himself in any event accepts that the princess would probably have agreed to be interviewed without what he describes as my ‘intervention’.”
Mr Bashir added he will “always remain immensely proud of that interview”.
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