The BBC has offered an unconditional apology after a new damning report found a top journalist used “deceitful” methods to secure a landmark interview with Princess Diana as her marriage broke down.
BBC journalist, Martin Bashir conducted the career-defining interview with Princess Diana in 1995, a media ‘hot cake’ at the time, in which she detailed the breakdown of her relationship with Prince Charles.
The new report, written by former judge Lord Dyson, found that Bashir had shown fake bank statements to Diana’s brother Charles Spencer, which “deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana.”
Previously, CNN anchor and correspondent Max Foster alleged that Bashir has long used forged documents to suggest the palace staff were working against Princess Diana and being paid to spy on her.
Matt Wiessler, a former graphic designer for the BBC, said he mocked up false bank statements after Bashir reached out to him.
Thursday’s report also found that Bashir also likely created another set of fake bank statements, which he again showed to Spencer.
“By gaining access to Princess Diana in this way, Mr Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview,” the report notes, adding that this behavior was in breach of BBC guidelines.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie said Thursday, May 20, that the interview “fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect.”
“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,” Davie said.
The 1995 interview was a shocking moment in British public life.
During the interview, Diana told Bashir that there were “three of us” in her marriage to Prince Charles, referring to Camilla Parker Bowles, whom the heir to the throne would later marry.
Buckingham Palace was blindsided by the interview and thrown into crisis by Diana’s comments, which showed how morally bankrupt members of the royal family were.
Bashir responded in a statement Thursday that it was “saddening” the controversy had “been allowed to overshadow the princess’ brave decision to tell her story,” according to PA Media news agency.
“It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret,” Bashir said in a statement.
“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.”
Bashir added that he remained proud of the interview.
The BBC’s former director-general Tony Hall, who was in charge of news and current affairs at the time of the controversy, said Thursday that he was “wrong to give Martin Bashir the benefit of the doubt,” according to PA Media.