Investigation Finds BBC Journalist Martin Bashir Used False Documents, Lies to Secure Princess Diana Interview
An independent inquiry has found that the BBC's Martin Bashir used fake bank statements and lied to Diana's brother about phones being bugged to get Princess Diana to agree to the 1995 BBC Panorama interview.
An independent investigation has found that BBC journalist Martin Bashir used dishonest tactics to get Princess Diana to agree to go in front of the camera in a 1995 blockbuster interview discussing the breakdown of her marriage with Prince Charles.
The inquiry found that Diana was duped into agreeing to the explosive interview, which aired on the BBC documentary series Panorama, by Bashir using fake bank statements to make it appear that members of Diana’s own staff were being paid to spy on the princess.
Bashir also conned Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, into believing that Diana’s car and three phones at Kensington Palace were bugged, and her mail was being read by British intelligence, the investigation found.
“What the new investigation has found is that he deceived Princess Diana, essentially by playing into fears that she had that the royal family was conspiring against her and her relatives,” Daily Mail editor Charlie Lankston told Inside Edition.
Bashir apologized for his actions related to the Panorama interview Thursday.
“It was a stupid thing to do...the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview. It is saddening that this single issue has been allowed to overshadow the Princess’ brave decision to tell her story.”
The BBC is also apologizing. “The process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this,” the network said.
In a statement Thursday, Prince William criticized the "deceitful way the interview was obtained" and said he was "most saddened" his mother never learned she had been deceived.
"It is welcome that the BBC accepts Lord Dyson's findings in full – which are extremely concerning – that BBC employees: lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother; made lurid and false claims about the Royal Family which played on her fears and fuelled paranoia; displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the programme; and were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation," he said.
"It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents' relationship worse and has since hurt countless others," he continued. "It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her. But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived. She 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."
William said he believes Panorama "should never be aired again," and said, "In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important. These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too."
Prince Harry also spoke out in the wake of the investigation's findings, saying, "Our mother was an incredible woman who dedicated her life to service. She was resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest. The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life."
"To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it," he said. "That is the first step towards justice and truth. Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these— and even worse—are still widespread today. Then, and now, it's bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication. Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life. Let's remember who she was and what she stood for."
Bashir has resigned from the BBC, but he insists it was for health reasons.
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