The BBC “fell short of high standards of integrity and transparency” over Martin Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana, an inquiry has found. Bashir faked documents to get the interview and later lied to BBC managers about them, BBC reports.
The interview aired 25 years ago and watched by nearly 23 million people included the quote “there were three of us in this marriage”, referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
The BBC said the report showed “clear failings” adding: “We are very sorry for this.”
Mr Bashir apologised for mocking up the documents, but said they had no bearing on Diana’s decision to be interviewed.
LEFT THE BBC
Bashir left the BBC recently of health reasons. Questions about the interview arose late last year when late Diana’s brother accused Bashir of showing to the princess forged bank statements, in order to persuade her to do the interview. The interview is one of the most watched BBC programmes of all time.
The independent inquiry was commissioned by the BBC last year, after Earl Spencer went public with the allegations. Lord Dyson, a retired judge who led the inquiry, said the BBC “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”.
He found that Bashir deceived Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, by showing him the fake documents to gain his trust so he would introduce Bashir to Diana.
The inquiry described significant parts of Bashir’s account of the events of 1995 as “incredible, unreliable, and in some cases dishonest”.
In a statement, Bashir apologised for mocking up the documents, but said he remained “immensely proud” of the interview, the BBC reports.
He said: “The bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview.”
The BBC’s director general, Tim Davie, said: “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 process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings.”
“While today’s BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way.”
“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.”