The British Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday announced that an investigation will immediately begin into the 1995 interview with Diana, the deceased Princess of Wales.
The television network’s decision came after Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, alleged that BBC journalist Martin Bashir had used forged bank statements to convince her to give the Panorama interview in November 1995. Panorama is a current affairs documentary programme on BBC Television.
Former Supreme Court judge Lord John Dyson has been appointed to head the investigating team.
“The BBC is determined to get to the truth about these events and that is why we have commissioned an independent investigation,” BBC Director General Tim Davie said. “Lord Dyson is an eminent and highly respected figure who will lead a thorough process.”
Earlier this month, Charles Spencer had called for an independent investigation into the matter, claiming that “sheer dishonesty” was employed to secure his sister’s interview. In a letter to Davie, Spencer wrote that Diana had been shown fake bank statements of two senior courtiers and was told that they were being paid for information on her, The Daily Mail reported on November 3.
In the Panorama interview, which received a record viewership of 22.8 million, Princess Diana had admitted that her marriage to Prince Charles was failing. She had then said “there were three people” in her marriage, referring to herself, Charles, and his long-time lover and now wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall.
Diana and Charles divorced in 1996 and the princess died in a car crash in Paris a year later. Camilla Parker-Bowles and the Prince of Wales married in 2005.
Martin Bashir, the 57-year-old BBC journalist, has been recovering from a heart surgery and complications brought on after he tested positive for Covid-19. His interview with Diana had generated a lot of attention and had helped him have an illustrious career.
Diana’s son Prince William has welcomed the inquiry, calling it 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,” he said.
Documents from the BBC, acquired by Channel 4 and ITV documentary this year, have revealed that Bashir was cleared of allegations of wrongdoing, reported The Guardian. The internal investigation, led by Tony Hall, who became the channel’s director general back then, reported that the journalist was a fundamentally honest person who “wasn’t thinking” when he forged the bank statements. Hall had then reportedly said that the graphic designer who followed Bashir’s orders would never work for the network again.
Hall also said that the BBC had received a handwritten note from the princess saying that she had not given the interview due to the bank statements.
In response to freedom of information requests, the network had repeatedly said that it had lost the note, according to The Guardian. But on Friday, it announced that the note had been found, and would be submitted to the independent inquiry team.