BBC criticized over ‘deceitful’ Diana interview

An investigation led by retired judge Lord Dyson found that Martin Bashir used deceitful tactics that were later covered up by senior executives to secure his sensational 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

As well as to the late Princess Diana’s sons, the BBC, and Bashir has also written apologies to Prince Charles and her brother Earl Spencer.

The awards the interview received will be returned, including a TV Bafta won in 1996.

The investigation revealed that:

  • Bashir seriously breached BBC rules by mocking up fake bank statements to gain access to the princess
  • He showed the fake documents to 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
  • And as media interest in the interview increased, the BBC covered up what it had learned about how Bashir secured the interview. Lord Dyson said this “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 1995 interview made Bashir a star after an audience of almost 23 million tuned in to hear Diana reveal details of her life and make the famous comment that there were “three of us in this marriage”, in reference to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

It was the first time a serving royal had spoken so openly about life in the Royal Family.

But since then Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, has questioned Bashir’s tactics to get the interview.

The independent inquiry was commissioned by the BBC last year after Earl Spencer went public with the allegations. Its findings were published on Thursday.

The earl told BBC Panorama: “Well, the irony is that I met Martin Bashir on the 31st of August 1995 – because exactly two years later she died, and I do draw a line between the two events.”

He said it was “quite clear” from when he introduced Bashir to Diana in September 1995 that “everyone was going to be made untrustworthy, and I think that Diana did lose trust in really key people”.

Patrick Jephson – Diana’s former private secretary – added: “One of the worst consequences of the interview was that it destroyed remaining links with Buckingham Palace.”

He said after the interview, Diana lost “the royal support structure that had guided and safeguarded her for so many years” which “inevitably made her vulnerable to people who didn’t have her best interests at heart or were unable properly to look after her”.

Lord Dyson found that Bashir deceived Earl Spencer by showing him forged bank statements that falsely suggested individuals – including Mr. Jephson – were being paid for keeping the princess under surveillance.

The inquiry said Bashir had later lied, telling BBC managers he had not shown the fake documents to anyone.

And it described significant parts of Bashir’s account of the events of 1995 as “incredible, unreliable, and in some cases dishonest”.

Courtesy: BBC News

Full report: dyson-report-20-may-21