Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020

BBC’s ‘horrendous cover-up’ of plot to con Diana ‘went right to the top’, claims author

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The graphic designer who created documents for Martin Bashir has called for the former Panorama reporter to provide “answers” about his famous interview with Princess Diana. The allegations centre on claims by Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer. He said he was shown “false bank statements” by Mr Bashir which were used to help gain access to Diana for the interview. Graphic designer Matt Wiessler also criticised former BBC boss Lord Hall, who led the internal inquiry in 1996 into whether or not Diana was misled. Martin Bashir is currently too unwell to comment on the allegations.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, royal expert Tom Bower said: “The problem that we’re now facing is that Bashir’s forgeries were known about from 1996.

“What is extraordinary is it’s taken 24 years to get to this stage.

“It is partly because the BBC covered up their own sins and it went right to the top.

“That’s what is so extraordinary about this story.”

He added: “The cover-up this time is so horrendous and so dramatic that forgeries like this note from Diana mysteriously disappeared.

“One has got to wonder whether the BBC became a rotten can of worms and needs more than just an investigation into Diana’s saga but also its news and current affairs service.”

Lord Hall was director of BBC News and current affairs at time of the inquiry, which concluded that the graphic played no role in Diana’s decision to do the interview.

But the BBC’s board of governors was told, following the inquiry, there had been “steps to ensure that the graphic designer will not work for the BBC again”.

Mr Wiessler told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was “absolutely gobsmacked” to discover that “a board of governors meeting, there to look into what Martin had done” had made him “the scapegoat”.

He said: “I don’t know how you can plausibly tell a story that a graphic designer is to blame.

“And I’ve been living with this for 25 years. And when I saw this, this decree that went out… I was pretty angry … because I thought it was utterly unfair.”

The name of the person who wrote that the “graphic designer will not work for the BBC again” is not published on the internal BBC document, which has just come to light.

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Former director general Lord Hall, who left the BBC earlier this year, said in a statement to Today that “the focus of the original investigation was whether Diana had been misled”.

He said “this and any new issues raised will no doubt be looked at by the BBC’s new inquiry”.

His comments come after new BBC boss Tim Davie confirmed there would be an independent inquiry into the events.

“The BBC is taking this very seriously and we want to get to the truth,” he said in a statement.

“We are in the process of commissioning a robust and independent investigation.”

The broadcaster is expected to set out more details of the new, planned investigation in the coming days.

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