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BBC Diana row: Only punishment for those involved is ‘public shame’, says former Governor

Princess Diana interview: Richard Eyre discusses punishment

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A BBC former Governor has told Sky News that the only “possible punishment” for those involved in the Princess Diana Panorama interview scandal is “public shame”. Sir Richard Eyre argued that Lord Tony Hall had suffered enough and that shame was the only viable punishment as the incident had occurred over 25 years ago.  

Sir Richard Eyre said, “I simply don’t know what possible punishment there is except shame. I think Tony Hall has suffered, I think excessively from the revelations and has apologised.” 

“I think John Birt has played a very good hand because he, of course, was editor-in-chief, I feel like he has to take responsibility for what happened.” 

“But what punishment can there be? It’s 25, 26 years in the past – the punishment is public shame.”

Lord Dyson’s findings into the circumstances of the infamous interview were released in May. It declared that the BBC had fallen short of “high standards of integrity and transparency” during the 1995 interview.

The inquiry also concluded that journalist Martin Bashir had acted in a ‘deceitful’ manner in order to obtain an audience with the Princess of Wales. 

Martin Bashir had forged bank statements that implied members of Diana’s household staff were being paid to observe her movements. 

These documents were then shown to the Earl of Spencer, Diana’s younger brother, and used to establish trust with the Princess. 

The BBC’s own 1996 internal inquiry into the interview, which was helmed by former Director Lord Tony Hall, has been called ‘woefully ineffective’ by the new report. 

The Panorama interview aired in 1995 and was hailed as the scoop of a generation. 

During the explosive interview, Princess Diana spoke openly about her mental health and eating disorders and spoke of her relationship with the Royal Family. 

She famously admitted to having affairs during her marriage and spoke about Prince Charles’ long-term relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles, saying that “there were three of us in this marriage”. 

The interview caused an enormous scandal for the Royal Family, who had been depicted as cold and unfeeling. Shortly after the interview was broadcasted, the Queen wrote to Charles and Diana requesting them to divorce.  

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Since then, the interview has come under scrutiny for the methods in which Martin Bashir and the BBC obtained access to the ‘vulnerable’ Princess. 

Following the publication of the Dyson inquiry, both Prince William and Prince Harry released statements to express their disappointment at the BBC. 

Prince William said the interview had portrayed a “false narrative” of his family and had contributed to his mother’s sense of “fear, paranoia and isolation” that had plagued her during the last years of her life. He also stated his belief that the interview should never be broadcasted again. 

Princess Diana died aged 36 in 1997 after her car lost control in a tunnel in Paris. She and partner Dodi Fayed were being pursued by the paparazzi. 

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