Inquiry Confirms BBC Lied to Diana Before Interview

Network apologizes over Martin Bashir's tactics ahead of famous 1995 sit-down
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2021 10:35 AM CDT
Inquiry Confirms BBC Lied to Diana Before Interview
Journalist Martin Bashir.   (Photo by Nick Wass/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – In 1995, BBC journalist Martin Bashir sat down with Princess Diana for a bombshell interview in which she revealed details about her unhappy marriage. Now, an independent inquiry has concluded that Bashir had phony bank statements made up ahead of time to suggest that the royal family had been spying on Diana, reports CNN. Bashir showed them to Diana's brother Charles Spencer, which "deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana," writes former judge Lord John Dyson in his new report. "By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, Mr. Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview," the report asserts. Dyson not only faults Bashir for his "deceitful" actions—he also slams a 1996 inquiry by the BBC itself into the allegations as "woefully ineffective." On Thursday, the BBC apologized.

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"While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology," said BBC director-general Tim Davie. "The BBC offers that today." Bashir stepped down as the BBC's religion editor last week, citing health reasons. In a statement to the BBC, Bashir apologized for the forgeries but suggested their role in obtaining the interview had been overblown. "The bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview," he said, per Variety. "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." A separate investigation by the BBC on all this will air as a documentary Thursday night. (Read more Princess Diana stories.)

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