THE BBC has issued a lacklustre apology after admitting that its employee, Martin Bashir, engaged in ‘deceitful’ behaviour to persuade the late Princess Diana to be interviewed.
Broadcast to millions of viewers in 1996, the controversial interview sent shockwaves across the country and through royal circles, with Diana speaking openly about her marriage to Prince Charles and their subsequent divorce.
Yet to secure the interview, disgraced BBC journalist Martin Bashir presented forged bank statements to Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, to win both his and his sister’s trust.
The programme aired just two years before the Princess’ death, and Earl Spencer has now stated that he believes the interview could have directly contributed to her car crash, as it not only created a maelstrom of media interest and harassment, but led to a reduction in security provided by the royal family to Diana for her protection.
Now, an internal inquiry held by the BBC has confirmed that Bashir lied and that the BBC broke its own standards policies.
Former BBC director-general Lord Hall has meanwhile said he accepts that his own inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the interview in 1996 had “failed to meet the standards that were required”.
Lord Dyson – the retired judge who led the new inquiry – found:
- Bashir seriously breached BBC rules by mocking up fake bank statements to gain access to the princess
- He showed the fake documents to Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, to gain his trust so he would introduce Bashir to Diana
- By gaining access to Diana in this way, Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview
- When the BBC carried out its own investigation into the tactics used to get the interview in 1996 – led by future BBC director general Lord Hall – it “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”
- A 1995 letter from Princess Diana – published as evidence – said she had “no regrets” concerning the matter
The BBC’s internal review, however, has been accused of being a whitewash to divert the bulk of the blame onto Bashir, and to draw a line under the matter without other organisations such as OFCOM getting involved.
Commenting on the internal review’s findings, Tim Davie, Director General of the BBC, said: “We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings.”