BBC Diana probe 'to conclude Bashir used deceit to get bombshell interview'

20 May 2021, 08:03 | Updated: 20 May 2021, 08:11

A probe into the BBC's explosive interview with Princess Diana will be published today
A probe into the BBC's explosive interview with Princess Diana will be published today. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

An investigation into how the BBC landed Princess Diana for a bombshell interview is to be published today and will reportedly find the journalist used deceit to get her.

The probe concluded that Martin Bashir breached BBC editorial rules by deploying deceitful methods in securing the explosive chat with the Princess of Wales, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Lord Dyson, the former master of the rolls and head of civil justice, was appointed to look into how the organisation obtained Diana for the 1995 interview, which included her notorious line: "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

Previous allegations suggested the journalist created fake bank statements that were shown to Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, to obtain access to her.

Richard Ayre, the BBC's controller of editorial policy in 1995, told the newspaper he had declared to Lord Dyson in evidence that Bashir would have violated guidelines in mocking up statements and showing them to the earl.

Read more: No criminal probe into Bashir's 1995 Diana interview, police confirm

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The Diana interview has been closely scrutinised in recent years
The Diana interview has been closely scrutinised in recent years. Picture: PA

He said: "The use of deceit in making factual programmes would have been permissible only in the case of investigating serious crime... and where prima facie evidence of the guilt of that person being investigated had already been obtained.

"Those circumstances clearly don't apply to an interview with the Princess of Wales."

The probe was set up after Diana's brother alleged Bashir showed him fake financial documents relating to his sister's former private secretary Patrick Jephson, plus another royal household member.

He also accused the journalist of telling outlandish and untrue stories about the royal family to gain access to the princess.

The investigation is considering whether the steps taken by the broadcaster and Bashir were appropriate and to what extent their actions pushed the princess into giving an interview.

Read more: Prince William welcomes probe into Bashir’s BBC interview with Diana

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TV watchdog Ofcom has said previously it will not launch its own investigation into the BBC Panorama controversy, but will follow the independent inquiry "closely".

Diana's son the Duke of Cambridge welcomed the launch of the investigation late last year, saying it "should help establish the truth behind the actions" that led to the programme, while Prince Harry also reportedly supported the inquiry.

The BBC previously delayed the broadcast of a Panorama investigation into the interview.

A programme was expected to air on BBC One on Monday but was postponed due to a "significant duty of care issue", according to the broadcaster.

Bashir, who was the BBC News religion editor, left the corporation last week on health grounds.

He has been seriously unwell with Covid-19 related complications.