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Martin Bashir was paid '£45k a time' for BBC appearances after Diana trick
15 June 2021, 15:28 | Updated: 15 June 2021, 20:09
Martin Bashir was paid "£45,000 a time" for BBC appearances after tricking Princess Diana, a committee of MPs has heard.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Tuesday questioned a number of senior former BBC figures, including former Director-General Lord Tony Hall.
On Mr Bashir's rehiring after tricking Princess Diana, where he was employed as the corporation's religious affairs correspondent on between £80,000 and £120,000, committee chair Julian Knight quizzed Lord Hall about what he did to earn the salary.
Mr Knight told Lord Hall that over three years Bashir appeared on air and on the website about half a dozen times, adding: "That's about £45,000 a time, nice work if you can get it."
Lord Hall replied: "That is not effective use of a correspondent, not a good record."
Mr Knight said it was "utterly extraordinary" that the BBC would re-hire Bashir as religious affairs correspondent and asked how it came to be that a "known liar" was brought back to the corporation.
Lord Hall said he was not going to second guess the people who were filling the role, and added: "If we knew then what we know now, of course he wouldn't have been re-hired."
Mr Knight said: "A cynic would suggest the process was entirely concocted so that the resolution at the end of the day was that Mr Bashir would get this job."
Lord Hall apologised for the impact tricking Diana and her subsequent bombshell interview had on the royal family.
"...for the two princes and I'm sorry for the hurt caused," he added.
He continued: "At core here, I trusted a journalist, I gave him a second chance and that trust was abused and was misplaced.
"I don't think the words 'honest and honourable', 25 years on, look appropriate at all."
Asked why he had reported to the board of governors, following the 1996 internal inquiry into Martin Bashir, that he was an "honest and honourable man", Lord Hall said: "I took what I think was an unusual step in saying I will take part in the investigation and interview Bashir myself.
"Why? Because I had to establish whether I believed Bashir, whether I should therefore give him a yellow card or dismiss him, and that was what I was trying to work through.
"In the end we came to a judgment about his lack of experience, that he was out of his depth, that he was contrite, and we gave him a second chance.
"We trusted him and it turns out we couldn't. In that light I understand I am using words which when you look at them now just seem wrong. But it was me trying to work out, 'Could I trust this man or not?'"