Sunday, 13 Jun 2021

Prince Harry and Prince William receive grovelling apology from BBC over Diana interview

Princess Diana interview: Bashir used ‘deceit’ concludes report

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The broadcaster has also sent personal apologies to Prince Charles and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer.

It comes after an official inquiry by Lord Dyson concluded that the BBC covered up the “deceitful behaviour” journalist Martin Bashir used to land the bombshell interview with Diana in 1995 and “fell short of high standards of integrity and transparency”.

Bashir was in “serious breach” of the BBC’s producer guidelines when he faked bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer to gain access to Diana, the report said.

The corporation has also returned the awards it received for the explosive interview

Bashir won a Bafta in 1996 for his world exclusive.

The BBC said in a statement: “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.”

Lord Dyson, former master of the rolls and head of civil justice, was appointed to look into the circumstances surrounding the explosive interview which sent shockwaves through the Royal Family.

Bashir commissioned documents purporting to show payments into the bank account of Alan Waller, a former employee of Earl Spencer, Commander Patrick Jephson, Diana’s private secretary, and Commander Richard Aylard, private secretary to the Prince of Wales, according to Lord Dyson.

The report said: “By showing Earl Spencer the fake Waller and Jephson/Aylard statements and informing him of their contents, Mr Bashir deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana.

“By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, Mr Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview.”

An internal investigation by the BBC into the matter in 1996 was “woefully ineffective,” it added.

The report found the BBC inquiry “did not scrutinise Mr Bashir’s account with the necessary degree of scepticism and caution”, despite the fact he “had lied three times when he said that he had not shown the fake statements to Earl Spencer”.

It said Bashir had lied when he said he had not shown the documents to anyone, when he had in fact shown them to Earl Spencer, and he repeated this lie two more times.

It also said Bashir was “unable or unwilling” to offer a credible explanation of why he had commissioned the faking of statements and why he had shown them to Diana’s brother, and Earl Spencer was not approached to give his version of what had happened.

The report said: “They accepted the account that Mr Bashir gave them as truthful.”

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 interview aired, has apologised that the inquiry “fell well short of what was required”.

Bashir has apologised for faking the documents and said it was “a stupid thing do to do”, and “an action I deeply regret”, but added he felt it had “no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview”.

A handwritten note from Diana on Kensington Palace paper, which was part of the evidence in the inquiry, said Bashir did not show her any documents or give her any information “that I was not previously aware of”.

She said she took part in the interview “without any undue pressure” and had “no regrets concerning the matter”.

The interview famously featured Diana saying: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”

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