Bashir inquiry: Experts discuss future of BBC
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Former BBC journalist Martin Bashir was the subject of a probe launched into how Panorama secured the explosive tell-all interview with Diana, Princess of Wales back in 1995. The interview saw the Princess utter the famous line: “There were three of us in this marriage.” But since it was aired, there have been questions as to how Mr Bashir – a junior reporter at the time – had managed to secure such a high-profile interview. Now, a six-month independent inquiry led by Lord John Dyson found the BBC “did not scrutinise” Mr Bashir enough following the interview, while also confirming he commissioned false bank statements and used “deceitful behaviour” to secure the tell-all appearance.
The scathing report concluded the BBC “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”, and that the broadcaster had “without justification covered up” Mr Bashir’s actions.
The BBC has since written to the Royal Family to apologise for the events surrounding the interview, which came two years before the Princess of Wales’ death.
The Princess’s younger brother, Earl Spencer, previously told of how Mr Bashir used forged bank statements to convince Diana to do the interview after making her believe she was being spied on.
Earl Spencer said these statements misled the Princess by appearing to show two senior courtiers were being paid by the security services for information on his sister.
The false documents also led the Princess of Wales to believe associates of the Royal Family were selling stories to the media about her, he claimed.
Earl Spencer said if he had never seen the bank statements presented to him by Mr Bashir, he would not have made the introduction and the interview would never have happened.
The report found Bashir “deceived and induced” Earl Spencer, with former director-general of the BBC Lord Birt labelling him a “rogue reporter”.
Lord Dyson said Earl Spencer was “not approached” by the BBC when questions were raised over the forged bank statements.
The broadcaster also accepted the account Mr Bashir gave in a previous investigation as “truthful”, the Dyson report concluded.
Why did Martin Bashir forge bank statements?
Mr Bashir forged bank statements to get Diana, Princess of Wales to agree to be on the Panorama interview.
The Princess of Wales is understood to have already been very paranoid at the time as it was just after the Prince of Wales revealed he had an affair with then Camilla Parker Bowles.
Tensions in the Wales’ marriage were already very rocky, and Mr Bashir is accused of preying on this to secure the interview with the Princess of Wales.
But Mr Bashir is adamant he believes the Princess of Wales would have done the interview without having seen the forged bank statements, adding he remained “immensely proud” of the interview.
He said: “The bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview.
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“Evidence handed to the inquiry in her own handwriting unequivocally confirms this, and other compelling evidence presented to Lord Dyson reinforces it.”
In the note, she wrote: “Martin Bashir did not show me any documents, nor give me any information that I was not previously aware of.”
It remains unclear as to exactly why such statements were mocked up, but the journalist has apologised for his actions.
Responding to the report, Mr Bashir said: “This is the second time that I have willingly fully cooperated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago.
“I apologised then, and I do so again now, over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up, it was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret. But I absolutely stand by the evidence I gave a quarter-of-a-century ago, and again more recently.”
Princes William and Harry both released a statement following the revelations of last night, with the Duke of Cambridge dubbing the interview “a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse” and has “since hurt countless others”.
He added: “It brings incredible sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.
“But what saddens me most is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived
“She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.”
Prince Harry blamed the “ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices” which “ultimately took her life”.
He added: “Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed, by protecting her legacy we protect everyone and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life.
“Let us remember who she was and what she stood for.”
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