Martin Bashir used ‘deceitful behavior’ to secure Princess Diana interview, report says

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Martin Bashir used “deceitful behavior” to secure his controversial interview with Princess Diana in 1995.

The 127-page report, released on Thursday, concluded that the journalist “deceived and induced” the late royal’s brother, Earl Spencer, into securing the interview for Panorama, The Telegraph reported.  

According to the outlet, the BBC’s current-director general Tim Davie said the corporation accepts “in full” the findings of former High Court Judge Lord Dyson.

“Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the proceeds for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect,” said Davie. “We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings.”

Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program Panorama. 
(Photo by © Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

“While today’s BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured this way,” he continued. “The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew. 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.”

In response to Lord Dyson’s report, Bashir released his own statement.

“This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago,” said the 58-year-old, as quoted by the outlet. “I apologized 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.”

“I also reiterate that the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview,” Bashir shared. “Evidence handed to the inquiry in her own handwriting (and published alongside the report today) unequivocally confirms this, and other compelling evidence presented to Lord Dyson reinforces it. In fact, despite his other findings, Lord Dyson himself in any event accepts that the princess would probably have agreed to be interviewed without what he describes as my ‘intervention.’

Television journalist Martin Bashir with the BAFTA Award he received for best talk show.
(Photo by Fiona Hanson – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

“It is saddening that this single issue has been allowed to overshadow the princess’ brave decision to tell her story, to courageously talk through the difficulties she faced, and, to help address the silence and stigma that surrounded mental health issues all those years ago. She led the way in addressing so many of these issues and that’s why I will always remain immensely proud of that interview.”

According to the outlet, Lord Dyson was commissioned six months ago by Davie to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the bombshell tell-all. It was alleged that Bashir breached the BBC’s editorial guidelines by creating two false bank statements that he showed to Earl Spencer.  The 57-year-old then introduced Bashir to Diana. The interview took place two months later from the meeting.

In November 2020, Earl Spencer told People magazine the documents were influential in his decision to approach Diana about the interview, as they alleged that a member of his staff was being paid by tabloids to leak information about the princess’s family.

“This was what led me to talk to Diana about such things,” he told the outlet. “This, in turn, led to the meeting where I introduced Diana to Bashir, on September 19, 1995. This then led to the interview.”

Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, is the brother of Princess Diana.
(Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Charles Sabine      )

In October 2020, the Sunday Times alleged that Bashir manipulated Diana into giving the tell-all by showing those faulty bank statements to her brother. After facing pressure from Diana’s family following the report, Davie commissioned an independent inquiry to investigate Bashir’s tactics.

Earlier this year, Bashir was the subject of a criminal investigation. However, the Metropolitan Police decided in March that “no further action would be taken against the journalist.”

“In recent months the Metropolitan Police Service received correspondence alleging unlawful activity in connection with a documentary broadcast in 1995,” Commander Alex Murray said in a Scotland Yard release. “This was carefully assessed by specialist detectives. Following this detailed assessment and in view of the advice we received, we have determined that it is not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into these allegations.”

Bashir has stepped down from his role as the editor of religion for BBC. The departure was confirmed in an email BBC’s deputy director of news Jonathan Munro sent to staff.

Princess Diana passed away in 1997 at age 36.
(Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Image)

“He let us know of his decision last month, just before being readmitted to hospital for another surgical procedure on his heart,” Munro wrote. “Although he underwent major surgery toward the end of last year, he is facing some ongoing issues and has decided to focus on his health.”

In the infamous interview, the Princess of Wales said “there were three of us in this marriage,” referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles, who he married after Diana’s death. Diana, who divorced Charles in 1996, died in a Paris car crash in 1997 as she was being pursued by paparazzi. She was 36.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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