(LONDON) FEATURED: The BBC fell short of “high standards of integrity and transparency” over Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with Princess Diana, an inquiry has found #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.22: The corporation said the report showed “clear failings”, admitting it should have made more effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time:

Martin Bashir: Inquiry criticises BBC over ‘deceitful’ Diana interview and he acted in a “deceitful” way and faked documents to obtain the interview, the inquiry said: And the BBC’s own internal probe in 1996 into what happened was “woefully ineffective”, it added.

12 hours ago

By Francesca Gillett
BBC News

Princess Diana and Martin Bashir
BBC News

The BBC and Bashir have both apologised, and the BBC has written to Princes William and Harry.

As well as Diana’s sons, the BBC has also written apologies to Prince Charles and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer. It is also returning all awards the interview received, including a TV Bafta won in 1996.

Bashir said mocking up the documents “was a stupid thing to do” and he regretted it, but said they had had no bearing on Diana’s decision to be interviewed.Earl Spencer recalls introducing his sister to Martin Bashir in September 1995

Newspaper headlines: Princes’ ‘rage and sadness’ at BBC ‘lies’ to Diana

3 hours ago

By BBC News
Staff

The Times 21 May
The Times splashes on Thursday’s publication of a report into how former Panorama journalist Martin Bashir obtained his interview with Princess Diana. The paper reports an independent inquiry, led by retired judge Lord Dyson, found the BBC had fallen short of its “high standards of integrity and transparency” and that Mr Bashir had acted in a “deceitful” way and faked documents to obtain the 1995 interview. Diana’s eldest son, the Duke of Cambridge, is pictured on the paper’s front page during a broadcast of his response to the inquiry’s findings, in which the papers says he condemned the corporation for its “lies” in securing the interview, which “stoked her paranoia” and played a part in the breakdown of her marriage to his father, Prince Charles.

Lord Dyson – the retired judge who led the inquiry – found:

  • Bashir seriously breached BBC rules by mocking up fake bank statements to gain access to the princess
  • He showed the fake documents to Earl Spencer, to gain his trust so he would introduce Bashir to Diana
  • By gaining access to Diana in this way, Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview
  • And as media interest in the interview increased, the BBC covered up what it had learnt about how Bashir secured the interview. Lord Dyson said this “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark” 
  • A 1995 letter from Princess Diana – published as evidence – said she had “no regrets” concerning the matter

Princess Diana’s interview with Bashir for Panorama was a huge scoop for the BBC – in it, the princess famously said: “There were three of us in this marriage.”

It was the first time a serving royal had spoken so openly about life in the Royal Family – viewers saw her speak about her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, their affairs, and her bulimia.

But since then Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, has questioned Bashir’s tactics to get the interview.

The independent inquiry was commissioned by the BBC last year, after Earl Spencer went public with the allegations. Its findings were publishedon Thursday.

The earl told BBC Panorama: “Well, the irony is that I met Martin Bashir on the 31st of August 1995 – because exactly two years later she died, and I do draw a line between the two events.”

He said it was “quite clear” from when he introduced Bashir to Diana in September 1995 that “everyone was going to be made untrustworthy, and I think that Diana did lose trust in really key people”.

Patrick Jephson – Diana’s former private secretary – said the interview “destroyed remaining links with Buckingham Palace”.

He said after the interview, Diana lost “the royal support structure that had guided and safeguarded her for so many years” which “inevitably made her vulnerable to people who didn’t have her best interests at heart, or were unable properly to look after her”.

Lord Dyson found that Bashir deceived Earl Spencer by showing him forged bank statements that falsely suggested individuals – including Mr Jephson – were being paid for keeping the princess under surveillance.

The inquiry said Bashir had later lied, telling BBC managers he had not shown the fake documents to anyone. 

And it described significant parts of Bashir’s account of the events of 1995 as “incredible, unreliable, and in some cases dishonest”.

The Dyson Report shows a catalogue of moral, professional and editorial failures at the BBC in the 1990s, which occur on three main levels. 

First, the interview of the century was obtained by deception. Martin Bashir has admitted to forging bank statements. This report says he lied repeatedly to several people, including at the BBC.

Second, the investigation led by future director general Tony Hall was “woefully ineffective”. Bashir was believed far too readily. Earl Spencer was not interviewed. Crucially, Dyson rejects the grounds given for this failure by Hall and his team.

Finally, Dyson uses a phrase which he knows to be explosive. There was a “covering up”. The origin of the cover up is not clear. But no matter: the BBC conspired, on vast scale, to deceive the public it is funded by and serves. 

This report will not just injure the BBC, but scar it. And it should be granted that though it shows the historic failures of BBC journalists, it also shows the power and merit of journalism. 

It is thanks to determined reporters, not least at the Daily Mail group and the Sunday Times, that we today have the first full account of the real story behind the most remarkable – and arguably consequential – interview in television history.

In a statement, Bashir apologised for mocking up the documents, but said 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. 

“Evidence handed to the inquiry in her own handwriting unequivocally confirms this, and other compelling evidence presented to Lord Dyson reinforces it.”

For the first time, Diana’s note that she wrote after the interview was broadcast has been published as part of the inquiry.

In it, she wrote: “Martin Bashir did not show me any documents, nor give me any information that I was not previously aware of.”

Dyson InvestigationLord Dyson said the note had been found in November 2020 and given to BBC officials

As well as Bashir, the report also criticises the BBC over how it handled the claims about Bashir’s tactics.

In 1996, the BBC carried out its own investigation which cleared Bashir, Panorama and BBC News of wrongdoing.

Lord Dyson said that investigation – led by then-director of news, and future director general, Lord Hall – was “woefully ineffective”.

And as scrutiny from the press increased, the BBC gave “evasive” answers to journalists’ questions, he said.

When the BBC was asked about the bank statements by journalists in March 1996, senior BBC officials – including Lord Hall – already knew Bashir had lied three times about not having shown them to Earl Spencer, the report said.

But the BBC press office told journalists that Bashir was “an honest and honourable man”.

Lord Dyson said he was “satisfied that the BBC covered up in its press logs such facts as it had been able to establish about how Bashir secured the interview”. 

He said the BBC “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”.

In a statement, Lord Hall said he was wrong to give Bashir the “benefit of the doubt” at the time. 

He added: “Throughout my 35-year career at the BBC, I have always acted in ways I believe were fair, impartial and with the public interest front and centre. 

“While Lord Dyson does not criticise my integrity, I am sorry that our investigation failed to meet the standards that were required.”The BBC’s director general Tim Davie accepts the organisation’s “multiple serious failures”

The BBC’s current 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.”

BBC News understands that in a letter sent by Mr Davie to Prince Charles, Mr Davie apologised for Bashir’s “lurid and untrue claims” about the prince, members of his staff and other members of the royal family.

The letter said the BBC accepts that Mr Bashir made the claims “intending to play on the princess’s fears, in order to arouse her interest in him, and without concern for the impact on those he maligned”.

The chairman of the corporation, Richard Sharp, said the BBC “unreservedly accepted” the report’s findings that there were “unacceptable failures”. 

“We take no comfort from the fact that these are historic,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lord Birt – who was BBC director general at the time of the interview – said thanks to the inquiry, “we now know that the BBC harboured a rogue reporter on Panorama”.

He said it was a “shocking blot on the BBC’s enduring commitment to honest journalism” and it was a matter of “the greatest regret” that it had taken 25 years for the truth to emerge.

Princess Diana: What is the Martin Bashir interview row all about?

2 minutes ago

Princess Diana wearing a hat

The BBC has made an “unconditional apology” over the way it got an interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, more than 20 years ago.

An independent inquiry by Lord Dyson, a former senior judge, found journalist Martin Bashir used deception to secure the interview and then lied to BBC managers. 

Who was Princess Diana?

Princess Diana was the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry. 

She married the Prince of Wales, the heir to the throne, in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, in 1981. 

But the couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.

How did Princess Diana die?

The princess died in 1997, after the car she was in crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, in Paris.

Her companion, Dodi Al Fayed, with whom she had been holidaying, and their chauffeur, Henri Paul, died when the car crashed.

Mr Al Fayed’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived.

Analysis indicated Paul had 175 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, compared with the limit, under French law, of 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres. This equates to his having drunk more than a bottle of wine.

As he tried to speed away from photographers following the car, he lost control and smashed into a concrete pillar.

What did Princess Diana tell Panorama?

Diana’s brother makes new BBC interview allegations

The interview, broadcast in late 1995, was a huge scoop for the BBC – never before had a serving royal spoken in such candid terms about life in the Royal Family or relationships with other royals. 

In the interview, Princess Diana:

  • admitted having an affair
  • said Prince Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles (now his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall) had made her feel worthless
  • spoke of there being “three of us” in the marriage
  • said she had had bulimia and self-harmed
  • suggested Prince Charles might not be able to adapt to being king
  • said Prince Charles’s staff were waging a campaign against her

More than 20 million people watched the interview and it caused huge controversy. 

Shortly afterwards, the Queen wrote to Prince Charles and Princess Diana telling them to divorce.

Who is Martin Bashir?

There was a fair amount of surprise when it was revealed Mr Bashir, a relatively junior BBC reporter with no known royal background or contacts, had the interview. But the revelations overshadowed questions over how he had achieved it.

Getty ImagesMartin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana for Panorama in 1995

A few years later, he went to work for ITV’s Tonight With Trevor McDonald programme and then various US television networks. 

He returned to the UK in 2016 and was reemployed by the BBC, as religion editor, a post he resigned from because of ill health in mid-May. 

What does the report say about Martin Bashir’s actions? 

The report says Mr Bashir used deception to secure the interview.

He showed Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, forged bank statements appearing to show payments by a newspaper group to a former member of his staff. 

The report says this was to gain Earl Spencer’s confidence so he would introduce Mr Bashir to Diana.

Mr Bashir has admitted having the bank statements mocked up by a graphic artist working for the BBC.

However, when questioned by BBC bosses, he repeatedly denied showing these documents to Earl Spencer. 

The report says Mr Bashir “lied and maintained the lie until he realised that it was no longer sustainable. This was most reprehensible behaviour which casts considerable doubt on his credibility generally”.

Getty ImagesCharles and Diana married in 1981

What does the report say about the BBC?

The BBC comes in for strong criticism in the report. 

After the forged bank statements were revealed by the Mail on Sunday newspaper, in early 1996, an internal BBC inquiry cleared Mr Bashir, Panorama and BBC News of wrongdoing. 

The director of news who conducted the inquiry was Tony Hall, now Lord Hall, who later became the BBC director general. 

However, the Dyson Report says this inquiry was inadequate because it failed to interview Earl Spencer – something it calls “a big mistake”.

It says it did not treat Mr Bashir’s account with “necessary scepticism and caution”, given that he admitted faking bank statements (itself a serious breach of BBC rules) and could give “no credible reason” why.

The report also says the BBC covered up facts about how Mr Bashir secured the interview. 

It criticises the corporation for giving evasive responses to press inquiries, and says “without justification, the BBC fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”. 

How has the BBC responded to the report?

The BBC says the report identified “clear failings” and that while it now has better procedures in place, “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.”

Martin Bashir has apologised for the fake bank statements – which he said were “a stupid thing to do” – but said they had had no bearing on Princess Diana’s decision to grant him an interview.

In a statement Lord Hall has admitted he was wrong to give Martin Bashir the “benefit of the doubt” at the time.

What has the Royal Family said?

Princes William and Harry have spoke of the hurt caused by the interview.

Prince William said Diana “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”. He said the interview made a “major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse”.

Prince Harry said the “ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices” ultimately took his mother’s life.

Princess Diana sits in front of Martin Bashir during the 1995 interview

BBCDiana’s BBC interview

  • Broadcast on BBC One on 20 November 1995, the interview was watched by more than 20m people
  • At the time Princess Diana had been separated from Prince Charles for three years and they divorced the following year
  • – She famously told Bashir there were “three of us” in the marriage, referring to Camilla Parker Bowles 

Source: BBC

Bashir, 58, is one of the most well-known journalists in the UK. 

As well as Diana, he also made headlines for his 2003 interview with the pop star Michael Jackson. He has worked for ITV and various US television networks.

Last week he left the BBC, citing ongoing health issues. He had been the corporation’s religion correspondent and editor since 2016.

Lord Grade – who was BBC chairman between 2004 and 2006 – said the BBC’s “cover-up” had been worse than Bashir’s behaviour.

“It’s taken 25 years to get the truth. It raises the question in your mind, how many more cover-ups are there in the files of BBC journalism that we haven’t been told about?”

Former BBC governor Sir Richard Eyre said the board of governors would have insisted on a full inquiry if they had known about Bashir’s actions.

“The fact that Bashir lied should have been made clear to us, but in my memory, it never was,” he said. “We can see now that the false bank statements were the lever that opened the doors to the access to Diana.”

A Panorama investigation into the interview – delayed from last week – was shown at 19:00 BST on BBC One.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.22: 2021:

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