Inquiry into famous Diana interview slams reporter Martin Bashir, criticizes BBC
BBC official apologizes as inquiry finds Bashir 'acted inappropriately'
An inquiry into how the BBC secured the 1995 interview with Britain's Princess Diana in which she disclosed intimate details of her failed marriage concluded on Thursday that the journalist involved had acted deceitfully.
The BBC set up the investigation, headed by former senior court judge John Dyson, in November following allegations from Diana's brother Charles Spencer that forged documents and "other deceit" were used to trick him to introduce Diana to journalist Martin Bashir.
"Mr Bashir deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana," the report said. "Mr Bashir acted inappropriately and in serious breach of the 1993 edition of the Producers' Guidelines on straight dealing."
He also concluded the BBC had fallen short of "the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark" in its response to allegations of impropriety.
During the explosive interview on Panorama, watched by more than 20 million viewers in Britain, Diana shocked the nation by admitting to an affair and sharing details of her marriage to the heir to the throne, Prince Charles.
It came at a nadir for the Royal Family and was the first time Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997, had made public comments about her doomed marriage.
Bashir no longer with BBC
Her remark that "there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded" — a reference to Charles rekindling his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, now his second wife — was particularly damaging to the Windsors.
Dyson's report found that Bashir, then a little known reporter, had shown Spencer fake bank statements to persuade him to set up a meeting with Diana.
Spencer says Bashir had told him Diana was being bugged by the security services and two senior aides were being paid to provide information about her.
After it was aired, Bashir repeatedly lied to his bosses about how the interview was obtained, the report said. As questions continued, BBC managers failed to scrutinize his version of events properly and covered up facts about how Bashir had secured the interview.
The interview propelled Bashir into the limelight and he later went on to carry out high-profile interviews with other celebrities, notably singer Michael Jackson, as well as landing jobs with American outlets ABC and NBC.
Last week, the BBC announced that Bashir was leaving his current job as the publicly funded broadcaster's religious affairs editor because of ill health.
Bashir apologized but said he did not believe the faked statements had prompted Diana to give the interview, PA Media reported.
No evidence Diana regretted interview
Dyson's report included a handwritten note from Diana from a month after the interview in which she said she had no regrets and that Bashir did not show her any information of which she was not previously aware.
"By his deceitful behaviour … Mr Bashir succeeded in engineering the meeting that led to the interview," the report said. "But it is important to add that Princess Diana would probably have agreed to be interviewed."
Our Chair <a href="https://twitter.com/julianknight15?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@julianknight15</a> has commented on Lord Dyson's report into the events behind the BBC Panorama interview with Princess Diana. <br><br>We will be reviewing the report's findings and will scrutinise the BBC's response to the report<br><br>Full comment below👇 <a href="https://t.co/6dsCt9bBhC">pic.twitter.com/6dsCt9bBhC</a>—@CommonsDCMS
The BBC said there had been clear failings and it would hand back the awards the program won.
"While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today," BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement.
The Conservative government-led committee concerned with media affairs said there were "unacceptable failings" at the BBC as it reacted to the report.
"We will be reviewing the report's findings and will scrutinize the BBC's response to the report," the committee tweeted.
Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, had welcomed the investigation as a chance to find out the truth about what happened.