The British Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday published its much-anticipated report into how Martin Bashir secured his bombshell 1995 interview with Princess Diana.
The report found Bashir “deceived and induced” Princess Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, to get the Panorama interview with Diana, during which the late princess famously claimed there were “three of us” in her marriage to Prince Charles.
Bashir is accused in the report of showing Spencer fake bank statements in order to manipulate Diana into sitting down for the interview.
“By showing Earl Spencer the fake Waller and Jephson/Aylard statements and informing him of their contents, Mr Bashir deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana,” the report states. “By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, Mr Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview. This behaviour was in serious breach of the 1993 edition of the BBC’s Producer Guidelines on straight dealing.”
The report is based on an independent investigation launched by the BBC Board last November and led by Lord Dyson, a retired High Court judge.
Bashir — who stepped down from his role at the BBC earlier this year due to ongoing health concerns – said in a statement that he “deeply” regrets his actions on the bank statements,” but remains “immensely proud” of the interview.
“This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago,” Bashir said. “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.”
“I also reiterate that the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview,” he said. “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.'”
“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,” Bashir concluded. “She led the way in addressing so many of these issues and that’s why I will always remain immensely proud of that interview.”
In March, the Metropolitan Police force announced it would not launch a criminal investigation into Bashir over the interview.
Following the report’s release, the head of the BBC offered a “full and unconditional apology.”
“The BBC accepts Lord Dyson’s findings in full,” BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement, in part. “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,” Davies said. “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.”
Spencer has not yet commented on the report’s release but shared a photo on Twitter Thursday of him with Diana as young children, writing, “Some bonds go back a very long way.”
The BBC launched its investigation after Spencer renewed his allegations last year that Bashir used fake information and false documents to convince Diana to agree to the interview.
More than 23 million people watched the interview that Bashir did with Diana, who would die just two years later, in August 1997, after a car crash in the Pont D’Alma Bridge in Paris.
Diana’s comments about her marriage to Prince Charles and his alleged affair with his now wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, sent shock waves throughout the world — and the royal family.
When Bashir asked Diana if she thought Camilla was “a factor” in the breakdown of her marriage to Charles, Diana famously replied, “Well, there were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Diana and Charles, the parents of Prince William and his younger brother Prince Harry, divorced just one year after the interview aired, in 1996.
William and Harry have not yet commented on the report’s release.
William applauded the launch of the investigation in November, saying in a statement at the time: “The independent investigation is a step in the right direction. It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”
William and Harry were 15 and 12, respectively, when Diana died in 1997.